France Public Sector Strike Disrupts Schools, Hospitals

A nationwide strike by French public sector workers on Tuesday was affecting schools, hospitals and public services and causing disruptions in domestic air traffic.


Nine public sector unions called for nationwide industrial action to protest President Emmanuel Macron’s economic policies, which they say would result in deteriorating work conditions.


The unions are angry at plans to tighten rules for sick leave, freeze salaries and decrease the number of public sector employees in the next five years.


Flagship carrier Air France says about 25 percent of domestic flights would be cancelled due to a walkout by some traffic controllers. The airline expects to run all long-haul flights to and from Paris airports.


The Education Ministry said in a statement about 17 percent of teachers across the country were on strike Tuesday. Some school cafeterias and nurseries were closed, and several high schools in Paris were closed because students were blocking the entrances in solidarity with the union action.


“They unravel all the social protections supposed to protect the weakest and the workers,” said Sandrine Amoud, a teacher on strike in Paris to protest Macron’s policies.


Railway traffic was expected to be close to normal.


Jean-Claude Mailly, secretary general of the hard-left FO union, called on Macron to stop “austerity” policies toward public servants during a protest in the city of Lyon.   


Tuesday’s industrial action comes after several other street protests in recent weeks against Macron’s proposed changes to labor laws, which apply to employees of the private sector. Unions fear Macron’s economic policies would weaken France’s hard-won workers protections.


The hard-left CGT union called for new protests and strikes against Macron’s labor reforms on October 19.

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