Spring strikes cause travel chaos in France

Millions of travellers have been undergoing major disruptions across France as train and air travel workers continue with a series of strikes

France has been struggling with yet more travel issues as workers from the air and rail industry proceed with series of strikes.

French unions are protesting against president Emmanuel Macron’s reform agenda, which the labourers believe would “destroy the public railways through pure ideological dogmatism”.

Staff at state rail operator SNCF launched a series of stoppages on Monday — Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock France strikes chaos
Staff at state rail operator SNCF launched a series of stoppages on Monday — Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock

The biggest challenge has been given to the railways, as the president aims to make the network more competitive compared to its counterparts in the European Union.

In their strike announcement, the unions have claimed Macron’s changes “will fix neither the debt issue or that of dysfunction in the railway system”.

Staff at state rail operator SNCF launched a series of stoppages on Monday at 7 pm, forcing passengers returning from the Easter break to take the bus instead. The measures are expected to cause major disruptions for France’s 4.5 million train passengers. The stoppages will be in place every two out of five days, until June 18.

The disruptions have been also affecting Eurostar passengers as the SNFC is the employer of French cross-Channel train operator’s.

29 services from London to Paris and Brussels for Tuesday and Wednesday have been cancelled as a result.

As pilots, cabin crew and ground staff working for Air France are involved in a bitter pay dispute with the management, the strikes will proceed to affect air travel as well.

The carrier has been forced to cancel around 30 per cent of its long-haul flights, such as return trips to New York and Tokyo, as well as 15 per cent of short-haul operations and one of three medium-hauls routes.

This will affect passengers travelling to Dubai, Miami, Rio and Toronto, as well as to Paris, Manchester or Heathrow.

A call for industrial action has been issued by several Air France staff unions for Saturday 7 April, Tuesday 10 April, and Wednesday 11 April 2018.

Air France say it is too early to estimate the impact of these strikes.

The airline also warns: “In order to ensure the maximum number of flights with our reduced crew, we may have to limit the number of passengers on board some of our flights.

“Air France regrets this situation and is making every effort to minimise the inconvenience this strike action may cause to its customers.”