The union strike in France disrupts part of public transport, but fails to paralyze the country | International
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The interprofessional strike called for this Tuesday by several unions in demand for salary improvements to counteract inflation has not managed to paralyze France. Blockades at oil refineries continue and queues at gas stations are not reducing, but the mobilization is far from spreading to the rest of the economy. Commuter and bus transport has been disrupted by the strikes. The trade union call, however, is having a discreet follow-up in education, and in cities like Paris, the subway worked like any other day.
The objective of the four unions that called the strike – among them, the CGT, but not the first in France, the moderate CFDT – was to extend the protest that began at the end of September in the oil refineries to all economic sectors. The attempt, visibly, has been unsuccessful.
Some 150 rallies have been called throughout France. In Paris, protesters have been marching since two in the afternoon between the Place d’Italie and the Invalides, where Napoleon is buried.
At half a day, and according to figures from the Ministry of National Education, unemployment had been followed by just over 6% in this sector. In high schools (high schools) it was somewhat higher: 550 establishments closed, according to a union in the sector quoted on the France Info radio network.
The Gare de Lyon, one of the main train stations in Paris, was less crowded than usual. The reason is that the impact of the strike was considerable on commuter trains, essential for workers who travel from the outskirts to the city and vice versa. Information boards indicated that one out of every three trains ran on some lines; in others, one out of two, and in others, two out of three. Long-distance trains, on the other hand, worked normally.
Faced with the lack of commuter trains and the shortage of gasoline and queues at service stations, many French people opted for telecommuting. The fear of the Government, more than the strike this Tuesday, is that the stoppages in transport will be repeated in the coming days and that, added to the mobilization of the refineries, they will ruin the trips planned for the autumn school holidays, which begin this weekend.
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The strike connects with a general concern in France about wages, the decline in purchasing power and inflation, the lowest in the EU at 6.2%. But, seeing the half-time monitoring and according to the polls, it does not enjoy majority support. 49% of the French were against unemployment and 38% in favor, according to a survey by the Elabe institute. The number of supporters of the strike is 20 points lower than that of those who defended the winter 2019 strikes against the pension reform, as explained on the BFM-TV network by the director of Elabe, Bernard Senanes.
It is unknown if this strike anticipates an inflammation of the social conflict in the coming days and weeks, or if, after a hiatus of almost three years marked by the pandemic and the spending policies of President Emmanuel Macron, it certifies a return to custom. of regular strikes and demonstrations in France. “The timing is interesting,” writes the columnist for Le Monde Françoise Fressoz, “because it marks in a spectacular way the return to a kind of French normality after the statist parenthesis in which the country lived since March 2022.”
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