[Article updated 06/03 at 15:00 to reflect more information on tomorrow's strike]
France is braced for major disruption on Tuesday (March 7) as workers down tools to protest against the government’s proposed pension reforms.
A national strike is set to affect airports, trains and ports.
France’s transport minister, Clément Beaune, warned that Tuesday will be “one of the most difficult days we have seen”.
It comes after hundreds of thousands took to the streets in mid-February to voice their opposition to the reforms, which include raising the minimum pension age from 62 to 64.
All SNCF unions have called for a rolling strike from March 7, with train services and passenger journeys expected to be heavily impacted. Freight traffic will also be affected.
The strike has been dubbed a “rolling” movement because each evening strikers will meet to decide whether or not to continue the movement locally.
Here is what we know so far:
- TGVs: One in five trains are set to run.
- Intercités: No service except one return Paris-Brive, two returns to Paris-Clermont, and bus replacements for Toulouse-Hendaye services).
- RER A and B, and lines H, K, and U: One in three trains set to run.
- RER C and D, and lines J, L, N, and R: One in five trains set to run.
- RER E and line P: One in 10 trains set to run.
- Paris Metro line 4: 50% of trains running.
- Paris Metro line 6: One in three trains at peak times and one in four at off-peak times.
- Other Metro lines: Running normally only at peak times.
- Automated lines (lines 1 and 14): Running normally.
- Buses: 75% of buses are set to run, but some lines will be closed.
Ferry services are likely to be disrupted at major ports in France on March 7 and 8.
Five national federations of port and dock workers across several industries have called for strikes.
They have decided to work together “to initiate a rolling strike in their companies" among workers, they said in a joint statement. It said: “From Tuesday, March 7, workers from our five national federations will be in a rolling fight…to amplify our strength.”
The CGT said that its action was “supported at 100% among dockers, and about 70% in port establishments”, suggesting that the strikes will have a significant impact on operations.
In addition, in a statement issued on February 27, union FNPD CGT called for 48 hours of action from March 7 to 8. March 7 will be the major day of action.
These two days will mark the seventh and eighth days of strike action at ports since January 19.
The Direction générale de l’Aviation civile (DGAC) has asked airline companies to reduce their flight programme by 20% at Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle, and by 30% at Paris-Orly, Beauvais, Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon, Nantes, Marseille, Montpellier, Nice, and Toulouse, after air controllers posted a national strike alert.
Refuellers are also on strike.
A ‘minimum service’ is expected to run, but the DGAC warned of “disruption and delays”. It asked passengers who can, to “delay their journey and contact their airline company for updates on the status of their flight”.
Transport unions have called for logistics and HGV drivers to take part in the strike, and they have already begun their action.
La Fédération Nationale des Transports et de la Logistique Force Ouvrière-UNCP called on them to “stop work from Sunday night at 22:00” with stoppages continuing on March 6 and 7.
The Union fédérale route FGTE-CFDT has called for action on March 7.
‘Snail operations (opérations escargot)’ are set for industrial zones in Hauts-de-France and the Paris region, as well as on the outskirts of major towns. Secretary general of the FNTL FO, Patrice Clos, refused to tell the press more details, and he said that he did not want the police to be forewarned.
Road workers are protesting the increase in retirement age, which will apply to them even though they already leave work earlier than other positions. Under the new proposals, their retirement age would increase to 59, up from the current 57.