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STRIKES

France’s summer 2022 strike timetable for roads, rail and air travel

The transport sector - particularly air travel - has been hit by strike action all over Europe this summer. Here's your guide to the declared strike days in France and the services that will be affected.

France's summer 2022 strike timetable for roads, rail and air travel
Paris Charles de Gaulle airport employees wave trade union flags as they stage a strike to demand higher wages at Roissy Charles De Gaulle Airport. Photo by Geoffroy Van der Hasselt / AFP

Why are the strikes taking place?

The majority of the strikes are over pay, with unions saying that the soaring cost of living should mean pay increases for staff. So far there has been no call for a general strike, and each dispute is a separate matter between company bosses and the relevant workers’ representatives.

We will update this story throughout the summer.

Airlines

The air travel sector is the worst hit so far, with several different strikes called.

Lufthansa – One of Lufthansa’s main unions called the German airline’s ground staff to strike on Wednesday July 27th as part of a wage dispute, heralding “delays and cancellations.” This will impact several airports across Europe. In France, flights with Lufthansa to and from Nice and Marseille could be affected.

Ryanair – Ryanair staff had filed a strike notice for ‘unlimited action’ over the summer, planning for a series of one or two-day strikes throughout the summer in conjunction with staff in other European countries. Pilots with Ryanair in France and Spain reached an agreement to return to pre-pandemic wages, after having taken salary cuts during the health crisis, and have therefore called off industrial action that was scheduled for July 23rd and 24th, and 25th through 28th, respectively.

Easyjet – French Easyjet pilots have written an open letter to the company CEO denouncing the chaos that has already seen the budget airline cancel dozens of flights because of staff shortages, but so far the pilots have not declared a formal strike. 

However Easyjet’s flight attendants have been called to strike from July 29th to 31st.

Airport – workers at Aéroports de Paris (which covers Paris Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports but not Beauvais) have called off their strike after reaching a deal on pay with the airport operator.

Staff shortages – in addition to strike action, air travel around Europe has been hit hard by shortages of key staff, and many airports have seen long wait times to check in.

Railways

There’s some better news for train passengers.

SNCF strike – workers on the French rail operator SNCF held a one-day strike on Wednesday, July 6th, which affected high-speed TGV, the Intercité and local TER trains in all parts of France. Although the dispute remains unresolved, unions say their next meeting with rail bosses will be on September 1st and there will be no more strike notices before that date.

That doesn’t rule out local on disputes on issues not related to pay, but does mean that there will be no widespread, nationwide strikes on the SNCF network over the summer.

Paris public transport – workers on the Paris public transport systems are also involved in a separate dispute about changes to changes to working conditions, this series of one-day actions has so far affected mostly the suburban Transilien trains and the RER network, but not the Metro. 

Roads

Truck drivers blockades – Drivers too are calling for wage increases in what is likely to be the first in a series of events – usually drivers protest by either blockading certain addresses such as business depots or staging opérations escargot – rolling roadblocks on major routes.

Service station strike – employees of French energy giant Total Energies are also in dispute over wages and staged a one-day strike in June. Employees of service stations run by Total Energies walked out, while others blockaded Total’s refineries so that deliveries of fuel could not get out. So far, there has been no notice filed of a second strike day. 

Others

So far, most of the industrial action has centred on transport, which is one of the sectors that has the most impact on the daily life of both French residents and visitors. However there are other sectors that are involved in disputes over pay and conditions, notably healthcare. Staff at several hospitals have already staged industrial action – although for healthcare workers a grève involves staging protests outside the hospital, rather than walking out.

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TRANSPORT

Macron’s plans for suburban train networks in French cities

Sometimes counting over 1.3 million passengers per day, Paris' suburban transport system - the RER - helps people get in and out of the city without having to rely on a car. According to French President Emmanuel Macron, it might soon be duplicated in other French cities too.

Macron's plans for suburban train networks in French cities

Those commuting in and out of Paris, as well as tourists looking to enjoy a day at Disneyland, are familiar with the region’s extensive suburban train network (RER). According to French President Emmanuel Macron, it might soon be replicated in other French cities in the coming years.

In the latest in a series of short-videos answering constituents’ “ecological” questions, the President responded to the question “What are you doing to develop rail transport in France, and offer a real alternative to [travelling by] car?” by offering plans to duplicate Paris’ RER system elsewhere.

You can watch the full video here;

Macron said that building suburban train networks in other cities would be “a great goal for ecology, the economy, and quality of life.”

While he did not name any locations in particular, the president did say that the plans would concern “the ten main French cities.”

While reminiscing about his grandfather, a former railway worker, Macron added that the project would help to decarbonise transport and ease congestion in city centres.

The RER (Réseau Express Régional) system in Paris is a network of trains running across the region, connecting the suburbs to the city. The network has been expanding since the 1960s. While it now covers a large area, the network is notably less reliable than the city-centre Metro services, with users often complaining of delays and poor infrastructure.

According to Le Figaro, cities such as Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon, Grenoble, and Aix-en-Provence have already expressed plans to develop similar suburban train networks.

Lyon, France’s third-largest city and second-largest metropolitan area, has already discussed plans for the Lyon RER, with hopes that it will be fully operational by 2035, at an estimated cost of between €1.4 and €7 billion.

As for when, the President did not give a timeline, but the Elysée told Le Figaro that the first step would be for “the orientation council for transport infrastructure” to identify which projects could be “launched first.”

The project will also be steered by France’s Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, the former Minister of Transport. When she was in this role, Borne had submitted plans to develop RER systems in different French cities.

The project to add suburban train networks across the country was met with support from the current Transport Minister, Clément Beaune, who welcomed the plans as a “major ecological and social transformation for the coming decade.”

However, not everyone is convinced. Some, like the Mayor of Cébazat in Puy-de-Dôme, have already questioned whether the Paris region concept, which would require heavy investment, could effectively be replicated smaller cities.

“It must be fully efficient,” the Mayor, who is also an expert in transportation, told Le Parisien.

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