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a black Thursday is emerging against the pension reform in France

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A Thursday of strikes, demonstrations and “galley” for users: two days before the start of the mobilization against the pension reform in France, the veil was lifted on Tuesday on the extent of the disturbances expected in several key sectors, primarily transport and education.

  • Strong mobilization expected in schools

“School closed on January 19”: in Marseille as elsewhere, signs began to appear on the gates. “The whole teaching team will be on strike,” said one of them.

Proof that the pension reform, which aims to raise the legal retirement age to 64, “is a major concern” for teachers, according to Guislaine David, general secretary of Snuipp-FSU, the first primary union. About 70% of strikers are expected in kindergartens and elementary schools.

The anger of teachers, sharpened by the opening on Wednesday of negotiations on salary increases in Education, should not spare colleges and high schools either. Blockages of establishments by high school students are also to be expected.

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  • Very disrupted traffic at SNCF and RATP

Thursday’s strike, the first day of mobilization against the pension reform, will be very popular in transport with almost no regional trains, very few TGVs and a metro idling in Paris.

On the TGV lines, there will only be between 1 train out of 3 and 1 train out of 5 depending on the axes. The Atlantic axis is the most affected with only 1 in 5 trains in circulation. SNCF Voyageurs is also planning 1 train out of 3 on the North, South-East and Ouigo lines and 1 train out of 4 on the East line.

But it is above all regional traffic that will be almost stopped, with only 1 TER out of 10 on average and an almost identical frequency for the Transilien lines and certain RERs.

Only the RER A (managed by the RATP) does well with 1 train out of 2 at peak times and 1 out of 4 during off-peak hours, a rhythm roughly similar to that of the RER B (1 train out of 2 or 3 ). On the other hand, the RER C, D and E will see only 1 train out of 10 circulating. Same thing for the Transilien lines J, K, L, N and P. Traffic will be completely interrupted on the R.

In Paris, three metro lines will be completely closed (8, 10 and 11) and ten others will only operate partially, at peak times or on certain sections. Only lines 1 and 14, fully automated, will operate normally, with “risk of saturation”, warns the RATP.

The disturbances promise to be less significant than for the last strike on November 10, during which seven metro lines had to be completely closed.

The Intercités will be completely interrupted, with the exception of a Paris-Clermont round trip.

  • One in five flights canceled at Orly airport

The General Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGAC) has asked airlines to preventively cancel one in five flights at Orly, due to a strike by air traffic controllers as part of the day of mobilization against pension reform.

“Airlines must reduce by 20% their program of flights initially planned at Paris-Orly airport from 5 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on January 19”, according to a “notice for air missions” (NOTAM) published on Tuesday by the DGAC.

The latter, in a press release issued in the process, stressed that “a national interprofessional strike notice in the entire public service and the private sector was filed by several trade union organizations for the day of Thursday, January 19, 2023 , in mainland France and overseas. This notice was relayed by several unions representing air traffic controllers”.

Flights to Overseas, many departing from Orly, are not affected by cancellations, in the name of territorial continuity.

According to the manager of Orly, Groupe ADP, the airport platform hosted last month some 530 flights on average per day departing or arriving. Just over 100 flights would therefore be canceled on Thursday.

The DGAC adds that “despite these preventive measures, disruptions and delays are nevertheless to be expected”.

  • Disruptions in the energy and refinery sector

The scenario of a renewable movement is taking shape in the energy sector where “drops in electricity production” are to be expected, warned the leader of the FNME-CGT Sébastien Menesplier, referring to possible “cuts” targeting the elected “who support the reform”.

The CGT Mines-Énergie has presented a “battle plan” to obtain the “pure and simple withdrawal” of the government’s project. This plan provides for a “recovery of the working tool in all these forms”: “restores of electricity and gas to the most precarious, free energies, targeted cuts, production cuts”…

The union calls for a renewable strike from January 19, with the ambition of “really disorganizing work or weighing on the economy” of companies, said Sébastien Menesplier.

The strike could also have an impact on the restarting of certain nuclear reactors: “If there are strikes, there will be no restarting of reactors. If there is no restarting of reactors, there will be there may be a lack of production capacity. (…) We will fully assume as we did this fall. And we will wait for someone to come and get us”.

A ramp-up is also looming in refineries, with 24-hour notice on Thursday, then 48 hours next week and 72 hours in early February. At the TotalEnergies depot in Dunkirk, “employees are very upset” against the reform, says CGT secretary Benjamin Salvino, who is counting on activity almost at a standstill on Thursday, but without immediate consequences in service stations.

Slightly more shortages than usual were however observed at the start of the week, a sign of a possible fear of running out among some motorists.

With AFP

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