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Air France aeroplane at Charles de Gaulle airport, Paris
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France general strike: How it could affect your travel plans

A nationwide strike will take place in France in March – here’s how it could impact transport and travel

Ed Cunningham
Written by
Ed Cunningham

On some level, industrial action has always impacted the travel industry. At the moment, however, thanks to the cost-of-living crisis and the continuing impact of the pandemic, there seem to be more strikes than ever. From border force staff in the UK to cabin crew in Spain, airports and airlines around the world are seeing plenty of strike action.

And that’s the case in France, too. The European country is currently in the grip of nationwide strikes. Here’s all you need to know about those strikes – and how they might affect your travel plans.

When are the French strike dates?

The next French strike date is March 7, which is the day of the general strike. Other unions have called for extra days of action around this date, though those haven’t yet been confirmed. 

How will they impact travel?

Transport workers in France could either be going on strike or be affected by the strike themselves, thereby impacting services.

When it comes to air travel, striking workers at air traffic control and national carrier Air France could cause serious disruption to flights in and out of the country.

On the rail, routes operated by national rail operator SNCF are likely to be most affected, but Thalys and Eurostar could also be impacted by the strike. All rail services are likely to see cancelled trains and/or adjusted schedules. This was the case during the last strike of this kind in France, which was on February 15-17.

If you’re travelling by car, expect disruption, too. Oil refinery workers and those working in the fuel industry may also go on strike, causing queues and delays at petrol stations.

The exact scale of the impact of the strike on travel by plane, train, car and public transport isn’t yet known for sure. However, it’s best to keep an eye on your bookings – and expect to have to be flexible with your travel plans. 

What have the unions said?

The strikes are in response to a series of reforms to public sector pensions by the French government. Those reforms include raising the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64 and increasing the number of years that a worker has to have worked before they can take a pension.

Unions have organised strikes and rallies to protest these reforms. They argue that the government is unfairly targeting working people during a cost-of-living crisis and that its new laws are a social step backwards.

Luc Farre, secretary general of the UNSA union for civil servants, described the reform as ‘unfair and brutal’.

If you’re looking for more information on industrial action in the aviation industry, here’s our handy guide to all the strikes at European airports you need to watch out for right now.

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