PARIS – France woke up Thursday to a day of widespread industrial action called by the country’s civil service and state railway trade unions which looks set to cause considerable disruptions in public services and travel, according to French unions.
This is the second time President Emmanuel Macron has faced nationwide industrial action and labor marches with over 180 demonstrations planned to denounce his cabinet’s austerity policies.
In a joint statement, French trade unions CFTC, CFE-CGC, CGT, among others, expressed their “incomprehension and indignation” at the government’s silence “shunning its legal obligations to negotiate once notified of the strike” and underscoring their support in the defense, demands, status and growth of the French civil service” among other issues.
On the basis of the strike’s probable impact, the General Directorate of Civil Aviation asked airlines to reduce flight schedules by 30 percent in the three Paris airports of Charles de Gaulle, Orly and Beauvais.
Air Traffic Control went on a strike called by the USAC-CGT trade union that began at 5:00 am (0400 GMT) and is to continue to 11:00 pm, probably affecting other French airports.
The French state railway company SNCF was forced to cancel 60 percent of its TGV high-speed services, 75 percent of its long-distance trains, 50 percent of its regional services, 30 percent of the RER commuter service in Paris and its suburbs.
Some 25 percent of international railway routes were also hit.
Another sector affected was schools, mainly primary education, after a quarter of teachers announced their intention to back the strike.
According to pollster Odoxa, the strike was considered justified by 55 percent of the French population after March 15 when thousands of pensioners took to the streets protesting losses to the purchasing power of their pensions.
The French government has already stated it will not backtrack on its social and economic reforms.