PARIS – French public services on Tuesday will see major disruption as millions of workers strike to protest government labor reforms and planned job cuts.
Some 5.4 million public sector workers will walk out, with almost 130 gatherings and events planned across 90 French departments. It is the fourth major industrial action since French President Emmanuel Macron came to power last May.
The strike was called by the country’s nine major unions, including the CFDT, CGT, FO and Unsa unions, to protest labor reforms in general and in particularly plans to freeze pay, tighten rules for sick days and to cut 120,000 jobs in the public sector by 2022.
France’s civil aviation authority called on airlines to cancel 30 percent of their flights and trams, buses and underground trains are expected to be affected until tomorrow morning.
Police, teachers and for the first time since 2009, medical staff, are participating as well.
General rail services are not affected.
Despite Tuesday’ strike, the country’s major unions have failed to agree a common strategy to face down the government’s reforms after holding a joint meeting late on Monday.
Veronique Descacq, CFDT deputy secretary-general, said the unions plan to meet again on Oct. 24. The Communist Party-linked CGT called for another day of mobilization on Oct. 19.
Macron — who is in Germany today meeting Chancellor Angela Merkel — last month signed into law five decrees which contained the controversial reforms. These are expected to take effect by Jan. 1 next year after other decrees are signed before the end of 2017.
For the French leader and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, the reforms aim to modernize the country’s 3,500-page labor code.
However, Philippe Martinez, the head of the CGT, has branded the reforms a “social coup d‘etat”.
Meanwhile, public sector workers in neighboring Belgium’s French-speaking region went on a 24-hour strike to protest federal government’s policies.
Due to the ongoing strike by the CGSP trade union, which mainly represents French-speaking public workers, transportation, schools, postal and health services were disrupted.
The union called the 24-hour strike as a “warning” to the government, warning more large-scale protests would take place if the plans on budget cuts, reduced investment and privatization went ahead.