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France starts a countrywide strike and deals with significant disruptions

France starts a countrywide strike and deals with significant disruptions

France starts a countrywide strike and deals with significant disruptions

France starts a countrywide strike and deals with significant disruptions

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  • French unions have started a statewide strike to seek better compensation.
  • The walkout on Tuesday is a continuation of the weeks-long industrial action that has interrupted France’s major refineries and messed up the supply at gas stations.
  • Rail operator SNCF experienced “serious delays” with half of the scheduled train trips cancelled.
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One of the biggest challenges to President Emmanuel Macron since his reelection in May has come from labour unions who have started a statewide strike to seek better compensation amid the highest inflation in decades.

The walkout on Tuesday is a continuation of the weeks-long industrial action that has interrupted France’s major refineries and messed up the supply at gas stations. It mostly affects public sectors like education and transportation.

According to transport minister Clement Beaune, rail operator SNCF is experiencing “serious delays” with half of the scheduled train trips being cancelled.

Bus services and suburban services in the Paris region are also disrupted, according to operator RATP, but the inner-Paris metro system should mostly remain unscathed.

On Tuesday morning, the repercussions were clearly evident at the Gare de Lyon hub in Paris, where crowded suburban trains were dumping waves of passengers onto the platforms every 15 to 20 minutes.

Yera Diallo, a commuter, said, “I have a two- or three-hour drive today, instead of an hour and a half ordinarily,” adding, “I have no idea how it’s going to go this evening.”

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Beyond the transportation industry, unions want to organise workers in the food and healthcare industries.

Trade union officials are hopeful that workers would become more motivated as a result of the government’s plan to have some of them work at fuel depots again in an effort to restart the flow of fuel, a move that some fear may jeopardise the right to strike.

Despite the oil corporation reaching a deal with other unions on Friday that included a 7 per cent hike and a bonus, the CGT union has specifically called for ongoing walkouts at TotalEnergies into the fourth week. The CGT is requesting a 10% salary increase, citing inflation and the company’s enormous profits.

Because of the strike, Eurostar announced that certain trains between London and Paris would be cancelled.

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

On Monday, an FNME-CGT union official said that strikes were causing problems at 10 French nuclear power facilities, causing additional maintenance delays at 13 reactors, and causing a total reduction in French power generation of 2.2 gigawatts.

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Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne stated on Sunday that the strikes are taking place in a sensitive political environment as the French government plans to approve the 2023 budget using special constitutional powers that would allow it to avoid a vote in parliament.

On Sunday, tens of thousands of people demonstrated against rising costs in Paris.

The laureate of this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature, Annie Ernaux, marched alongside Jean-Luc Melenchon, the leader of the hard-left group La France Insoumise.

On Tuesday, Melenchon declared a countrywide strike.

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