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Trains, planes, ports and… museums? What disruption will Tuesday see?

Tuesday sees the 10th national mobilisation against France's controversial pension reforms

Protests are continuing after the government passed its controversial reform via article 49.3 Pic: Franck Legros / Shutterstock

Widespread disruption is expected across France on Tuesday (March 28) as opponents of the government’s pension reforms launch a tenth nationwide strike.

Up to 900,000 are expected to hit the streets to protest, reports FranceInfo.

The industrial action is set to hit the trains, planes and ports in particular. Blockades at refineries are still causing petrol shortages in some parts of the country. 

Trains

French rail operator SNCF expects traffic to be “severely disrupted”. 
It says just three-in-five TGV INOUI and OUIGO services will be running. For regional TER trains, it will be one-in-two that are operational. 

Paris regional transport authority RATP paints a similar picture in the French capital, with metro and RER services badly impacted. 
On international routes, Eurostar has - so far - cancelled two trains between London and Paris.

“The full impact of the strike will only be known nearer the time,” the company said. “We will do everything we can to prevent additional cancellations.”

Meanwhile, TGV Lyria has scrapped four services between the French capital and Geneva.

Airports

Air travellers have been warned to expect services to be cancelled or delayed over the coming days. 

Flights into and out of Paris-Orly, Marseille-Provence, Bordeaux, and Toulouse airpots will be disrupted until at least Thursday (March 30), according to airport authority la Direction générale de l’aviation civile (DGAC).

It advised passengers to delay their journey if possible and check with their airline before travelling. 

Other services across Europe, especially those that fly over French airspace, may also be affected.

Read more: France travel wrap: New Ryanair route, ferry boost, free rail pass 

Read more: Ryanair: Let other air traffic staff replace French during strikes

Ports

The port union La Fédération Nationale des Ports and Docks has announced a ninth day of strikes, with an “increase in action” from March 27, and 24 hours of strike action from March 28.

In its call to strike, it claimed that the president is “arrogant”, “answers [only] to the finance sector and the needs of the city”, and the use of article 49.3 to pass the pension reform bill is “a denial of democracy”. 

The union is calling for continued action to “achieve the overturning of the law”. It is set to hold another meeting on March 29 at 09:00, to decide on future actions after March 28.

Petrol, rubbish and museums

Blockades at fuel refineries and depots are also continuing across the country, including in TotalEnergies sites. A similar situation is unfolding at waste incinerators, including in Ivry-sur-Seine (Val-de-Marne), Romainville (Seine-Saint-Denis), and Issy-les-Moulineaux, where workers are protesting outside. 

Some clashes have been reported between protesters and police at the rubbish tip in Romainville. 

The Louvre gallery in Paris was closed on Monday after museum staff went on strike. It is unclear whether workers will continue their strike on Tuesday. 

Read more: Nearly one-in-five French petrol stations suffering fuel shortages 

Read more: Petrol workers requisitioned in France as shortages begin to bite 

Government response

It comes as Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne has attempted to calm tensions over the pension reform and the way it was passed, by stating that the use of article 49.3 will now be restricted to budgetary bills only.

The government used article 49.3 to push through the bill without a vote, and narrowly survived two votes of no confidence afterwards, including one by just nine votes.

Read more: French PM survives two no-confidence votes over pension reforms

Read more: Fury as French PM forces through pension reforms without a vote

Ms Borne announced: “Since the start of the legislature, 11 legal projects have been definitively adopted, as have 12 legal bills. Of these, we have used 49.3 on three bills only.” 

Yet, she stated: “I am making it so that in the future, there will be no 49.3 except for financial bills.”

She said in an interview with AFP that she was “available” to meet union leaders and that she wanted to “find a good path” forwards.

he is set to hold meetings this week with parliamentary groups and political parties, including representatives from the opposition, with a view to “appeasing the country” and “holding dialogue with all involved parties”.

Ms Borne is also meeting with President Macron today (March 27)  at the Elysée, including with presidents of parliamentary groups, to discuss ways forward.

She said: “I have two objectives: To appease the country in the face of these tensions, and to improve our responses to the public’s expectations.”

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