What to expect from today's pension strike in France

    WORLD  15 March 2023 - 12:30

    March 15th marks the eighth day of strikes and protests in the ongoing battle between the French government and unions over pension reform. From planes and trains to schools and waste collection - here's what to expect, according to thelocal.fr.

    The eighth day of ‘mass mobilisation’ in the ongoing battle against pension reform is scheduled for March 15th – it is supported by all eight French trades union federations, which means that disruption is likely to be widespread.

    It comes as a joint committee of French lawmakers examine the bill for the controversial reform of the French pension system, which includes raising the retirement age from 62 to 64.

    The French SNCF national rail services remained disrupted on March 15, with about three out of five high-speed TGV trains running, one in 5 Intercité trains running, and 2 in 5 of the usual TER local and regional services. 

    Passengers are advised to postpone their trips if possible, and can cancel or alter tickets free of charge.

    In Paris, some workers on the RATP public transport network are striking, but disruption is expected to be limited.

    Other cities, like Lyon and Marseille, are also likely to see some disruption.

    France’s Civil Aviation Authority (the DGAC) has announced that approximately 20 percent of flights scheduled at Paris-Orly airport will be cancelled on March 15, but other airports should be unaffected by ongoing air traffc controllers' strikes.

    There may be some knock-on effects on other flights, and flights scheduled to pass over French airspace may be rerouted. Passengers should check with their airline before travelling.

    Refinery workers will continue with their strikes and blockades until 9 pm local time, March 16, at which point workers will vote on whether or not to renew the strikes.

    Regarding fuel shortages - experts are still cautioning against panic buying. Jean-Louis Schilansky, the former president of the Union for Oil Industries (UFIP), told BFMTV on March 12 that “there is no risk of widespread fuel shortages in the next few days because there are still 200 depots that can supply petrol stations”.

    Schilansky told the French news channel that if strike action continues, then there could be a risk of shortages in the future but, as of now, “it is not the same situation as that of October”. 

    The CGT union representing ports and docks workers have also called for a work stoppage, which will run from March 14th until March 16th. Unions have announced that Thursday will be the most disruptive day. 

    Typically strike action in this sector impacts commercial ports rather than ferry ports. 

    Teachers are expected to walk out on March 15th, after the SUD Education union called for "all national education and university staff to continue and amplify the mobilisation" in a press release published on March 9th.

    While primary school teachers are required to give advanced notice before walking out, secondary school teachers are not obligated to do so.

    The CGT union that represents waste collectors has declared a ‘rolling’ strike. This union has the most support among the waste collectors in Paris – uncollected bins and bags of rubbish piling up on street corners have been seen in certain areas. Unions have called for strike action to continue until at least March 20th.

    Rolling strikes have already impacted parts of France's energy sector, and industrial action is expected on Wednesday as well.

    "This week ahead [actions] will be even stronger", Sébastien Menesplier, secretary general of the CGT Mines-Energies, told BFMTV on March 12.

    Several demos are planned in towns and cities across the country for today. The largest demo is expected to be in Paris.

    On March 11, which marked the second protest day called on a weekend, with unions hoping demonstrators would show up in greater numbers if they did not have to take a day off work, midday counts by French police suggested that about 963,000 people protested.

    After Wednesday's (March 15) action, unions have called for demonstrations in front of France's Assemblé Nationale on March 16, in Paris. Several sectors also plan to continue with 'rolling strikes' in the days ahead.

    Caliber.Az

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