Strikes in France: What you need to know about the protests and travel disruption on Tuesday

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Protesters march with a banner reading 'we want the revolution for Christmas' during a demonstration against unemployment and precariousness in Nantes, western France, on December 7, 2019. - The most serious nationwide strike to hit France in years caused new misery for weekend travellers on December 7, with defiant unions dismissing proposals by the government and warning walkouts would last well into next week. (Photo by Loic VENANCE / AFP)

Is the situation on public transport likely to get any better today?

No. Sorry to be blunt, but it’s unlikely. Many of the big unions that represent transport workers have already declared unlimited strike action, so there is no end date in sight.

Things may start to ease a little in the coming days as some employees go back to work.

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French workers lose roughly one day of pay for every day they strike, so many workers who are feeling the financial hit return to work after a few days. On Thursday and Friday last week – the first two days of the strike – 85 percent of SNCF train drivers walked out, but on Monday the figure was only 77 percent – which is why the rail operator managed to run nearly 15 percent of its usual services as opposed to 10 percent last week.

Obviously this is still pretty disrupted, but slightly less so. And the general pattern for long-term strikes in France over the years is that they have become less disruptive as time goes on.

However, Tuesday may actually be a worse day.

Why, what makes today worse?

The unions have called for another day of demonstrations and walk-outs on Tuesday as they ramp up the pressure as the government presents more details of its plans for a pension overhaul.

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While many transport workers are on unlimited strike actions many others, such as teachers and postal workers, did a one-day walkout on December 5th. Some of them will be doing another one-day strike on Tuesday and others will be participating in marches and demonstrations planned for French cities.

Some schools may close as teachers walkout, so parents may be faced with finding alternative childcare arrangements.

So what are the services today?

In the air, airlines have been asked to cancel 20 percent of their normal services. As on Thursday and Friday, most airlines will try to minimize disruption to long haul flights, but any flights going in or out of Paris’ three airports – Charles de Gaulle, Orly, and Beauvais – or Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux and Toulouse airports could be affected.

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Air France has canceled 25 percent of its domestic flights and 10 percent of its short-haul flights for Tuesday.

In Paris RATP workers – who run the city’s public transport services – confirmed on Monday afternoon that they will be extending their strike. The biggest union – UNSA – said it would be extending its action until at least Friday, December 13th, and had not ruled out the action at the weekend, while several other unions representing RATP workers said they were looking at extending until at least Thursday.

This means that services are similar to Monday’s with many Metro lines not running at all and severely disrupted services on trams, buses, and RER suburban trains.

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