West News Wire: Tuesday’s nationwide strike in France resulted in the cancellation of trains and the closing of schools as labor groups called for more pay for workers in the face of rising prices and an energy crisis.
The demonstrators are demanding “an increase in wages, pensions and social minimum, as well as the improvement of living and study circumstances,” according to CGT, one of the major trade unions in the nation.
According to a statement from CGT, the ongoing industrial action today is a continuation of the nationwide gas station closures caused by the weeks-long refinery strike. The trade union charged that the management of the major oil companies, particularly Total and Exxon, was “making tremendous profits” while oblivious to the requests of the affected workers.
As the protest movement is picking up steam not only in the energy industry but across “both public and private sectors,” the union said that now is the time for “employees, retirees, the unemployed and young people” to join the industrial action.
France’s inflation rate currently exceeds 6%, while almost all of the country’s industrial sectors have recorded a drop in activity due to the burgeoning energy crisis, which has been exacerbated by anti-Russia sanctions and the sharp decrease in Russian energy supplies.
The strike, which is supported by several large unions, has led to massive disruptions. SNCF, the national state-owned railway company, issued a warning that traffic would be disrupted “on several lines.”
The Eurostar rail service announced that it had to cancel certain trains between London and Paris due to the work stoppage.
Maritime transport could also be impacted, as several ports and docks announced that they would cease working for several hours on Tuesday.
The strike has forced some schools to close as the first official figures from the Education Ministry show that about 6% of teachers are participating in the action. The number is particularly high at vocational high schools, where the participation rate has reached almost 23%.
Numerous marches have drawn thousands of participants in a number of locations, including Paris, Bordeaux, and Rennes. Additional protests are scheduled for this afternoon.
As for the walkout on Tuesday, one of the nation’s ministers claimed that its participants did not follow the “culture of conversation.”
“I recognize that a certain proportion of employees would express hopes for increased purchasing power. But I tell them that we are the institution in Europe that has provided the greatest level of inflation protection for its citizens, said Christophe Bechu, the minister for ecological transition, to Europe 1.
The source highlighted that strikes are exacerbating an already challenging position brought on by “the war in Ukraine” and the general economic climate.