What to expect from tomorrow’s multi-sectoral strike in France

Several French unions have called for a national interprofessional strike tomorrow (October 18) to protest against the government’s decision to force some refinery strikers back to work.

The CGT, FO, Solidaires, FSU and several other unions have joined calls for action with the railway union SUD-Rail indicating that the strike could also be repeated on Wednesday if it is supported by a high number of workers.

Unions are also using the planned strike to demand wage increases for affected employees.

Tomorrow’s mobilization day comes after a ‘March against high prices and climate inaction’ (March against the high cost of living and inaction in the face of climate change), organized by La France Insoumise in Paris yesterday (October 16).

Tens of thousands of people participated, including personalities like Annie Ernaux, recent winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Read more: 30,000 people demonstrate in France against the cost of living and climate change

Read also: How reading Annie Ernaux will help you understand France

We examine the effect that the strike should have on the various sectors concerned.

Transportation

The services of the French rail operator SNCF and the RATP (the public transport operator of the Paris region) will be impacted tomorrow by the action of the industry.

Rail services are likely to be affected across the country, with one in two trains set to be scrapped in some regions according to Transport Minister Clément Beaune, who added that TGVs would be less badly affected.

SNCF has not confirmed this but will publish its forecast this afternoon (October 17).

Mr Beaune said traffic should operate normally in the Paris metro but one in three buses would be affected.

Truck drivers are also expected to join the strike.

This interprofessional day of action comes as refinery strikes are causing fuel shortages at around one in three French service stations.

Read more: Resumption of fuel strikes, what is the situation at French service stations?

With the All Saints school holidays starting on October 22, disruption to road and rail travel is raising fears that it will be harder than expected to get away for the autumn holidays this year.

Energy

Staff at several nuclear power plants have already been involved in downturns since last week, unhappy with base pay revisions proposed by the energy industry on October 6, which amounted to a 3.6% increase for the year 2022-23.

The FNME-CGT union demanded a 6% pay rise in August, and says the offer on the table does not cover inflation, which was at 5.6% year on year in September.

Employees of the Bugey, Cattenom, Cruas and Tricastin power stations are undertaking walkouts, and Gravelines – which is the most powerful power station in Western Europe – joined the action on 13 October.

They are demanding a 5% pay rise and said if they don’t get it they will delay hooking up a reactor at the site which was closed for maintenance this weekend.

FO secretary Franck Redondo said it would not impact households but could lead to blackouts for businesses.

Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne called for the “responsibility” of employees of EDF’s nuclear power plants, adding: “nothing justifies a preventive strike” and that negotiations must take place on Wednesday, October 19.

Health care

Workers in the private health and care sector, including companies like Orpea and Korian, have been encouraged to join the strike tomorrow to demand wage increases.

“All companies that are able to do so should raise wages,” Ms Borne said yesterday (October 16).

Schools and nurseries

Local authorities have already informed parents in many municipalities about the disruption of childcare services, crèches and wrap-around nurseries (before and after school).

Nursery and nursery workers are demanding pay rises, and many are expected to join the strike.

Teachers’ unions have until tonight to declare their intention to strike, but so far the movement will be largely centered on vocational high schools.

Garbage collection

In cities like Paris, Aix-en-Provence, Marseille, Bordeaux, Rouen and Toulouse, a large part of the garbage collectors should mobilize.

Road workers, technical and administrative staff, social housing employees and public librarians are also on strike.

Manufacturing

The call for wage increases is also launched within manufacturing companies such as Dassault, Stellantis and Safran.

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