French trade unions began a strike Tuesday (18 October) in an effort to increase wages amid decades of high inflation. President Emmanuel Macron faces one of the most difficult challenges since May’s reelection.
The strike will impact the transportation, schools and public sector. This strike is an extension of weeks-long industrial action which disrupted France’s major refineries and destabilized the supply at petrol stations.
Trade union leaders believe workers will feel more motivated by the government’s decision that some of them would return to work at petrol stations to pump the fuel again. Some argue that this threatens their right to strike.
CGT union called for continued walkouts at TotalEnergies (TTEF.PA) during a fourth-week period. This despite the fact that TotalEnergies reached a deal with other unions which included a 7% increase and a bonus Friday. CGT is requesting a 10% raise in pay. They cite inflation and the firm’s large profits.
Eurostar announced that some trains between London and Paris would be cancelled due to the strike.
Tensions are increasing in the second largest economy of the Euro zone. Strikes are already spreading to other parts of the energy sector, including EDF ( EDF.PA), which is where crucial maintenance work for Europe’s electricity supply will not be completed in time.
A representative of FNMECGT stated Monday that strikes had affected work at 10 French nuclear power plants. Further maintenance delays occurred at 13 reactors. French power production also decreased by 2.2 gigawatts.
Major disruptions to public transport can be expected in Eurostar, suburban, and train trains, as well as the Paris subway.
Unions representing civil servant workers called for a strike on Tuesday. This could cause disruptions in schools and other public facilities.
The political climate is very tense as the strike is being held. Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne declared on Sunday that the French government would pass the 2023 budget using special constitutional powers, which would enable it to bypass a vote at Parliament.
Demonstrations are held all over the country. One will be held in Paris at 1200 GMT.
On Sunday (16 Oct), thousands of protested rising prices. Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the hard-left party La France Insoumise France Unbowed, marched alongside Annie Ernaux (this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature) and other protestors. Melenchon called for a general strike on Tuesday.
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