Public sector worker strike causes industry chaos

Huge protests have been organised across the country, including this one in Brest

Schools, crèches, trains, flights, healthcare, the police, the postal service, electricity services and even the weather industry are being affected in the vast public sector strike including up to 5.7 million workers today (Tuesday May 22).

More than 130 protests have been organised across the country, with public sector workers from at least nine different unions (CGT, CFDT, FO, Unsa, FSU, Solidaires, CFTC, CFE-CGC and the Fédération Autonome) taking to the streets to defend their positions and oppose government reform, which they have dubbed “an attack” on their jobs.

Today will be the first time so many unions have joined together to march since 2010, having issued a common call against “the undermining of public roles”, the “denigrating of working conditions”, and dwindling buying power.

Up to 20% of flights have been grounded, especially from Paris Orly, Lyon and Marseille; and crèches may be closed or functioning on limited capacity.

Railway union SUD-Rail has called for an unlimited strike in solidarity, on top of the next existing SNCF strike beginning at 20h00.

Primary schools, colleges (middle schools), school cantines and crèches are also being affected - and are either closed or operating on limited hours - as the sector’s main union, the Snuipp-FSU, has advised that participation will be equivalent to the last strike on March 22 (around 20% on strike).

Healthcare is being affected too, with hospital and social services staff joining the strike to protest working conditions.

However, they have assured the public that healthcare plans and patient treatments will continue as normal.

Some areas could even see power cuts as the energy sector’s four unions - CGT, CFE-CGC, CFDT and the FO - have called their workers to strike in protest at what they call “threats to their status”.

Workers at forecaster Météo France are also taking part in the movement, as are workers at postal service La Poste.

The main Paris protest will begin at 14h00 and see workers march from Place de la République to Place de la Nation.

In response, Olivier Dussopt, secretary of state for the public service, has defended the government’s action.

On Monday, he said the planned reforms would not constitute “a rethinking” or “getting rid of” public servants’ roles, but would instead represent simple “modernisation” and “adjustments”.

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