French unions call strike amid soaring inflation

French unions call strike amid soaring inflation

A number of unions called for a nationwide strike on Tuesday in an effort to broaden a weeks-long protest at oil refineries to other industries. As a result, regional train traffic in France was reduced by almost half.

Since the strike mostly affected the public sector, there was some disruption in schools as well.

Trade union officials hoped that the government’s decision to compel some of them to return to work at gas stations in an effort to restart the flow of fuel would revitalise the workforce. However, some claim that this action jeopardized the right to strike.

However, according to a study conducted by Elabe pollsters for BFM TV, only 39% of the general public supported the statewide strike call made on Tuesday, while 49% were opposed to it.

Since his reelection in May, President Emmanuel Macron has faced some difficult obstacles, including the strike by refinery employees.

More workers may be needed at refineries during the day, according to government spokesman Olivier Veran, as lines of drivers anxious about supply disruptions at gas stations lengthen.

“There will be as many requisitions as deemed necessary … Blocking refineries, when we have reached an agreement on wages, this is not a normal situation,” Veran told France 2 TV.

Just under 10% of high school teachers were on strike on Tuesday, with numbers even lower in primary schools, education ministry data showed. The call for strike was most observed in vocational schools, where teachers oppose planned reforms.

On the transportation front, Eurostar announced that the strike will cause some of its London to Paris trains to be cancelled.

SNCF, a French public railway operator, reported a 50% decrease in traffic on regional links but no significant delays on main lines.

Strikes have spread to other areas of the energy industry, notably nuclear powerhouse EDF (EDF.PA), where essential maintenance work for Europe’s power supply will be delayed, as tensions mount in the second-largest economy in the eurozone.

On Tuesday, a FNME-CGT union spokesman said that work at nuclear power plants, particularly the Penly reactor, was being hampered by strikes.

The strikes are happening as the government is set to pass the 2023 budget using special constitutional powers that would allow it to bypass a vote in parliament, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Sunday.

Demonstrations are scheduled all over the country, with one in Paris from 1200 GMT.

Thousands of people took to the streets of Paris on Sunday to protest against soaring prices. The leader of hard-left La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) party, Jean-Luc Melenchon, marched alongside this year’s Nobel Prize winner for Literature, Annie Ernaux.

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3 thought on “Trains, schools affected as French unions call strike amid soaring inflation”
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