France is bracing itself for the next general strike

Today is Friday and the whole of France is bracing itself. Not for the weekend. Not for a cold weather snap. Nothing of the sort: a general strike is due to take place next Tuesday, March 7th (yes, another one). There were at least 5 major strikes recently: 2 in January (19th and 31st) and 3 in February (7th, 11th, and 16th).

Petrol station queues have already started building up in anticipation, causing the inevitable petrol shortages that wouldn’t have taken place otherwise.

Cultural centre in French town
Closed school / cultural centre in French village

Parents are desperately trying to find child-minding solutions as most schools and teachers will be taking part. Besides, I was told by a rather irritated working mother that the few schools offering minimum coverage won’t be providing canteen services at lunchtime. Parents won’t be allowed to give their children a packed lunch as there will be no staff available to help out, resulting in parents having to collect their kids at midday and bringing them back after lunch, an exercise which is virtually impossible for working parents.

Commuters are also fretting: most public transport will grind to a halt, including trains and buses, in what is referred to as a black day (“une journée noire”).

So, why a general strike?

The French government wishes to introduce a new pension reform, increasing the retirement age from 62 to 64 years old.

CGT demonstration against the French pension reform in Paris
Demonstrations in Paris

According to the Deputy Secretary of the CFDT (one of the major French unions), March 7th and subsequent strike dates (yes, more dates have been planned) will be about “moving up a gear and planning even more important mobilizations”. The order of the day has already been announced: “Bringing France to a standstill”.

For the Secretary General of the CGT, (the other, very powerful, main French union), there is no doubt that the mobilization must block the country, including petrol refineries and power plants.

More strike dates

March 7th will be a national general strike in France. But it won’t end there: there is also a call for a Feminist strike on March 8th, mobilization of the youth on March 9th, demonstrations on March 11th, and the list goes on…

As a British ex-pat living in France, will these strikes affect you personally? If so, in what way? Please feel free to leave a comment below and share your views with the rest of our readers.

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