Trains and schools hit as French unions call for strike amid rising inflation

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s regional train services were cut in half on Tuesday as several labor unions called a nationwide strike, seeking to capitalize on anger over decades of high inflation to expand weeks of industrial activity at oil refineries. other sectors.

Some disruption also occurred in schools, with the strike primarily affecting the public sector.

Trade union leaders had hoped the government’s decision to force some back to work in fuel depots to try to restore the flow of fuel, a decision some say jeopardizes the right to strike.

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But a poll by Elabe pollsters for BFM TV showed that only 39% of the public supported Tuesday’s call for a nationwide strike, while 49% opposed it, and growing numbers opposed the oil refinery workers’ strike.

The refinery workers’ strike has become one of the toughest challenges for President Emmanuel Macron since his re-election in May.

Government spokesman Olivier Veran said the demand for more staff for refineries could occur during the day, as queues of motorists grow worried about supply disruptions at petrol stations.

“There will be as many requests as necessary … Close the refineries when we come to an agreement on wages, this is not a normal situation,” Ferran told France 2 television.

Education Department data showed that less than 10% of secondary school teachers went on strike on Tuesday, with lower numbers in primary schools. The call for a strike was observed in vocational schools, where teachers were opposed to the planned reforms.

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On the transport front, Eurostar said it had canceled some trains between London and Paris due to the strike.

French public rail operator SNCF said traffic on regional connections was down 50% but there were no major disruptions on national lines.

With tensions rising in the eurozone’s second-largest economy, strikes have spread to other parts of the energy sector, including nuclear power giant EDF. (EDF.PA)as critical maintenance work on Europe’s energy supply will be delayed.

On Tuesday, a representative of the FNME-CGT union said the strikes were affecting work at nuclear power plants, including the Penly plant.

Prime Minister Elizabeth Bourne said on Sunday the strikes were taking place as the government prepared to pass the 2023 budget using special constitutional powers that would allow it to bypass a vote in Parliament.

Demonstrations are scheduled across the country, with one in Paris from 1200 GMT.

Thousands of people took to the streets of Paris on Sunday to protest price hikes. The leader of the hard-left La France Insoumise party, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, has walked alongside Annie Ernault, this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature laureate.

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Additional reporting by Ingrid Melander, Forrest Krillin and Juliette Jabkeiro. Editing by Angus McSwan and Jerry Doyle

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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