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Calendar: The latest French pension strike dates to remember

After months of bitter conflict, France's pension reform bill has been signed into law. That doesn't mean that strike and protests are over, however - here's the latest protest days.

Calendar: The latest French pension strike dates to remember
Photo by Charly TRIBALLEAU / AFP

The government’s planned pension reform includes raising the pension age from 62 to 64, but also scraps the ‘special regimes’ that allowed some workers – mostly in the public sector – to retire early.

Since details were first announced in January, unions have been holding a series of strikes and demos. The bill has now made its way through parliament and been signed into law after being approved by the Constitutional Council.

However, some opponents are vowing to keep up the fight.

New dates for strikes, protests and other actions are regularly being announced, we will update this article with new information as it comes with the newest dates at the top.

Tuesday, June 6th – After taking to the streets on May Day, France’s eight union federations have called for another day of strikes and protests on June 6th. This will come two days before the centrist alliance, Liot, puts forward a bill to repeal the pension reform law in parliament.

Monday, May 1st – a public holiday in France, May Day is traditionally a day of marches and demos across the country. This year, unions and leftist politicians called for a massive turnout on the streets to show the depth of public anger over the pension reform. 

Thursday, April 20th – railway unions have declared this as “day of anger” – with expected protests and walk-outs. Its unclear exactly how disruptive this action – which stops short of an official strike – will be. 

Friday, April 14th – While no strike action has been called for this day yet, France’s Constitutional Council will reportedly announce their findings regarding the fate of pension reform on April 14th. This deadline could become an important date for action by unions.

Thursday, April 13th – French unions called for a 12th day of action in protest of pension reform, just one day ahead of the decision by the Constitutional Council on pension reform. Precise details will be announced nearer to the time. This is the same date that waste collectors in Paris are set to begin a new rolling waste strike in the nation’s capital.

Thursday, April 6th – French unions called for an 11th day of action in protest of pension reform. 

Tuesday, March 28th – French unions called for a tenth day of action in protest of pension reform.

March 23rd – the eight main union federations announced a new day of “strong mobilisation” on Thursday, March 23rd. 

March 18th and 19th – Union leaders, such as Laurent Berger, the head of the CFDT, have called for more mobilisation in the form of “local unions rallies” across France during the weekend of March 18th and 19th, after President Macron’s party used Article 49.3 to ram pension reform through the parliament. Leaders on the political left, like former presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon have also encouraged ‘spontaneous actions’ in the days ahead.

March 16th – unions plan to demonstrate in front of France’s Assemblée Nationale in Paris on Thursday

March 15th – France’s eight largest union federations have called for an eighth day of mass strikes and demos on Wednesday, March 15th.

March 11th – representatives from the country’s eight union federations have called on people to mobilise on Saturday, March 11th – this is likely to be a day focused around street demonstrations rather than strikes.

March 9th – organisations representing young people in France have called on the youth to take action against pension reform on Thursday March 9th. This could lead to some high schools being blocked or partially blocked.

March 8th – this day also marks International Women’s Day, and feminist collectives across the country have called for marches against pension reform. The air traffic controllers’ strike continues on March 8th, and it’s likely that the rolling’ strikes will continue too. 

March 7th – the sixth day of mass strikes and demos, supported by all eight of the French union federations.

This was originally called as another one-day action, but an increasing number of unions are announcing plans for a ‘renewable’ strike, beginning on March 7th but continuing indefinitely.

So far unions representing workers on the country’s SNCF rail network, staff on the Paris public transport network and waste collectors have all announced ‘renewable’ strikes from March 7th.

Workers in the country’s chemical industry – including oil refinery workers – are also set to begin renewable strike action from March 6th.

Other workers, including teachers, have so far only announced plans for a one-day action, but more announcements could come. We will update this story with any new developments.

As ever with strike days, public transport operators will publish a detailed ‘strike timetable’ 24 hours in advance, showing what services will be running.

February 16th – the fifth day of widespread strike action, which will likely see widespread disruption on public services, as well as demos in towns and cities across France. This action is supported by all eight French union federations.

February 14th – not actually related to the pension plans – this is a separate dispute over pay and investment – but GPs will walk out on Tuesday, February 14th, leading to many surgeries closing completely. 

February 11th – this will be the fourth day of widespread strike action. France’s largest trade unions made a joint announcement calling for workers to mobilise on both February 7th and 11th. Falling on a Saturday, this is the first weekend action. It will also coincide with the second weekend of school holidays for French students in Zone A, and the first weekend for students in Zone B. 

According to reporting by AFP, Saturday’s day of action will not involve a strike on French national rail services – meaning trains operated by SNCF are expected to run normally on the 11th.

February 7th – the third one-day mass strike. Expect major disruption on the railways, on city public transport and school closures, among other actions, as well as protest marches and demos in towns and cities across France. 

February 6th, 7th and 8th – the CGT oil refinery workers will also strike for 72 hours from February 6th, and have not ruled out extending their action beyond these three days. 

France’s eight main trades unions also announced plans for two strike days after the January 31st day of mobilisation. Widespread, cross sector walkouts have been called for February 7th and 11th.

Two unions representing rail workers (the CGT Cheminots and Sud-Rail) had already called on members to strike on February 7th and 8th

The unions are also threatening to launch rolling strikes from mid-February if the pension reform is not scrapped, how this action is yet to be confirmed.

After January 31st… Two of the largest unions representing French ski lift operators and seasonal workers, FO (Force ouvrière) and the CGT, have filed “unlimited” strike notices starting on January 31st – the same day that unions across other sectors have called for another ‘mass strike’.

More localised actions could be added and the unions say they intend to take “strong action” during the Ski World Cup, held in Courchevel from March 16th-20th. Watch this space. 

Tuesday, January 31st – a second ‘mass strike’ day, backed by all eight of France’s union federations. An estimated 1.27 million people marched in the streets of France, according to the French ministry of interior ministry. This represents a larger number than the last protests on January 19. Unions representing workers at ski resorts have filed an unlimited strike notice beginning this day, which started with walkouts on the 31st.

Monday January 30th – Organisations representing high school pupils in France are calling for protests on January 30th, the day before the second day of “mass strikes”. They are called for high schools to be blockaded the following day on January 31st.

January 26th and 27th – oil refinery workers belonging to the CGT union will be taking part in the January 19th strike, but have also announced extra dates, including a 48-hour strike starting on January 26th. As well as walking out from work they have also threatened blockades – a similar action in October caused filling stations across the country to run dry.

January 26th – The CGT branch for workers at France’s ports and docks  called for a 24 hour strike on January 26th, calling on “docker workers and port workers to amplify their action” against pension reform.

January 21st – a demonstration is planned for Paris against the pension reform.

January 20th onwards – while most unions have filed one-day strike notices, some have filed ‘unlimited’ notices, which means that their actions will continue after the one-day strike is over – drivers including truck drivers have called for unlimited action, as have workers at France Télévisions.

January 19th – all eight of France’s trades union federations have called a strike on Thursday, January 19th, which lead to significant disruption across the country, particularly on all forms of transports. More than 1 million people took part in demos in towns and cities across France.

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For members


Eurostar cancels trains due to French strike action

The operators of the cross-Channel train service Eurostar have cancelled more trains on Tuesday, blaming French strike action.

Eurostar cancels trains due to French strike action

Eurostar told passengers that: “Due to strike action by some of our staff in France, there may be delays and last-minute cancellations.”

In total six trains were cancelled on Monday, with a further three listed as cancelled on Tuesday.

Passengers were advised to check before travelling, and only go to the station if their train was scheduled to run, as services and stations were described as “very busy” by Eurostar.

Services for the rest of the week are currently listed as running as normal, but passengers are advised to check here before travelling.

France has been hit by a series of one-day strikes since January as French workers protest against the government’s plan to raise the pension age from 62 to 64.

However, Monday and Tuesday are not scheduled strike days and French domestic SNCF train services appeared to be unaffected, as do other international routes like Lyria and Thalys services. 

Eurostar described the action as “short-notice industrial action”. Workers in essential industries like rail are usually required to give 48 hours notice of their intention to strike. However they do have the droit de retrait (right of withdrawal) which allows workers to walk out at short notice under a specific set of circumstances, usually if there are concerns for the health or well-being of staff. 

The next scheduled mass one-day strike in France is Tuesday, June 6th.

You can keep up with all the latest in our regularly updated strike calendar HERE.