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What to expect from tomorrow’s multi-sector strike in France

A day of action is planned to call for pay rises and in protest against government action on the ongoing refinery strikes. We outline sectors which will be affected

We look at the sectors which will be affected by the interprofessional strike tomorrow (October 18) Pic: Hadrian / Shutterstock

Several French unions have called for a nationwide, interprofessional strike tomorrow (October 18) in protest against the government’s decision to oblige some striking refinery employees to go back to work. 

The CGT, FO, Solidaires, FSU and several other unions have joined the calls for action with the rail union SUD-Rail stating that the strike could also be repeated on Wednesday if it is supported by a high number of workers. 

Unions are also using the planned strike to demand salary increases for the employees concerned. 

Tomorrow’s day of mobilisation comes after a ‘Marche contre la vie chère et l’inaction climatique’ (March against high living costs and inaction on climate change), which was organised by La France Insoumise in Paris yesterday (October 16).

Tens of thousands of people took part, including figures such as Annie Ernaux, who recently won the Nobel Prize for Literature. 

Read more: 30,000 to march in France against cost of living and climate change

Read also: How reading Annie Ernaux will help you understand France

We look at the effect that the strike is expected to have on the different sectors involved. 

Transport

Services from both the French train operator SNCF and RATP (the public transport operator for the Greater Paris area) will be impacted by the industry action tomorrow. 

Rail services will likely be affected across the country, with one in two trains expected to be cancelled in some regions according to Transport Minister Clément Beaune, who added that TGVs will be less severely impacted.

SNCF has not confirmed this but will publish its predictions this afternoon (October 17). 

Mr Beaune said that traffic should run as normal on the Paris métro but that one in three buses would be affected. 

HGV drivers are also expected to join the strike .

This interprofessional day of action comes at the same time that refinery strikes cause fuel shortages in around one in three French petrol stations.  

Read more: Fuel strikes renewed, what is the situation at French petrol stations?

With the Toussaint school holidays beginning on October 22, the disruption to road and rail travel is provoking concerns that it may be more difficult than first expected to get away for autumn breaks this year.

Energy

Staff at several nuclear power plants have already been involved in go-slows since last week, unhappy with the basic pay reviews offered by the energy industry on October 6, which equated to a 3.6% increase for the 2022-23 year.

The FNME-CGT union asked for a 6% pay rise in August, and says that the offer on the table does not cover inflation, which was at 5.6% over a year in September. 

Employees at the Bugey, Cattenom, Cruas and Tricastin power plants are undertaking walk-outs, and Gravelines – which is the most powerful plant in western Europe – joined the action on October 13.

They are asking for a 5% pay rise and have said that if they do not get this they will delay the connection of a reactor on site which was shut for maintenance this weekend.

FO secretary Franck Redondo has stated that this would not impact households but could result in blackouts for companies. 

Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne has called on the “responsibility” of people employed at EDF’s nuclear plants, adding: “nothing justifies a preventative strike” and that negotiations are due to take place on Wednesday (October 19). 

Healthcare 

Workers in the private health and care sector, including companies such as Orpea and Korian, have been encouraged to join the strike action tomorrow to demand pay increases. 

“All companies that are able to should increase salaries,” Ms Borne said yesterday (October 16). 

Schools and nurseries 

Local authorities have already notified parents in many communes of disruption to wraparound (before and after school) childcare, nurseries and crèches. 

Nursery and crèches workers are asking for pay rises, and high numbers are set to join the strike. 

Teacher unions have until this evening to declare their intention to strike, but so far, the movement will largely be centred on lycées professionnels.

Rubbish collection

In cities including Paris, Aix-en-Provence, Marseille, Bordeaux, Rouen and Toulouse, a large proportion of rubbish collectors are expected to mobilise. 

Highways workers, technical and administrative staff, social housing employees and public librarians are also set to strike. 

Manufacturing

The call for pay rises is also being made within manufacturing companies such as Dassault, Stellantis and Safran. 

Related articles 

Which sectors are expected to join strike in France next Tuesday?

French fuel shortage: How to check stocks at your local petrol station

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