December 4, 2019

December 2019: France Strikes

France: Massive nationwide strikes against pension reforms with hundreds of marches across the country; severe transportation disruptions expected possibly for weeks

The strike is expected to start at 10:00 p.m. local time on Wednesday, December 4th, when workers at SNCF (France’s national rail company) and RATP (Paris’ regional transport authority) officially walk out. Air France air and ground crews will be on strike, making flights in and out of French airports difficult, notably because air traffic controllers will also walk out. 

Public travel generally will be made even more difficult by today’s announcement by lorry drivers that they intend to blockade major French roads from December 7th onwards. Postal workers and other public service staff are expected to protest-three teaching unions have given the Ministry of Education formal notice of their intention to strike.

The police intend to hold action in support of the strikes from 10am to 3pm across all police services and won’t take part in additional airport or motorway checks throughout the day. (Forbes, Connexion France)

Quick Facts

  • 90 percent of trains cancelled on Thursday, December 5th
  • 20 percent of flights cancelled on Thursday
  • 11 Paris Metro lines and numerous cancellations on buses, trams and RER
  • 6,000 police and army officers to deploy to deal with potential unrest
  • Up to 1,000 Black Bloc anarchists expected to infiltrate the authorized protests 
  • 180 motorcycle police will be on duty
  • Shops, restaurants, cafes will be closing their doors Thursday, December 5th
  • Strikers expected to march from Gare du Nord to Place de la Nation on Thursday
  • No cars will be allowed to park along the demonstration route
  • Tourist sites to be closed: Arc de Triumph, Elysee presidential palace, Interior ministry, National Assembly, Hotel Matignon, Notre-Dame Cathedral 


Wednesday, December 4th:

  •  7:00pm: Shops and multiple tourist sites to close in Paris 

Thursday, December 5th:

  • Air travel disruptions to start taking place (easyJet, Ryanair, British Airways, Air France, Eurostar)
  • 10:00am: In Nice, the CGT union said the demonstration will start on place Masséna, pass by promenade des Anglais, Garibaldi and end at Tête Carrée
  • 10:00am: In Grenoble, the protest will start at 10:00 from the train station and end on boulevard Clémenceau
  • 10:30am: In Marseille, the march begins at 10:30 on the Canebière
  • 10:30am: In Lyon, the unions have announced that it will start at from manufacture des Tabacs, in the 8th arrondissement and finish on place Bellecour
  • 11:00am: In Bordeaux, a march is set to start from place de la République
  • 11:30am‘Yellow vest’ march leaves Place de Clichy in Paris
  • 1:30pm: ‘Yellow vest’ march arrives at Gare de I’Est

(12/5-12/6): CGT trade union for the Citura bus and tram will be on strike in Reims

(12/5-12/7): Unlimited strike at the RATP disrupting metro, bus, tram, and RSP

(12/5-12/7): SUD-Rail calls all agents of SNCF to start strike

(12/5-12/7): National education staff being mobilized- 55% strike rate in schools   

News Coverage

  • France looks set for potentially biggest strike in decades (France24)
  • Public transportation to be heavily disrupted due to strike; 90% of trains to be cancelled, as well as 20% of flights  (The Local France)
  • US embassy & consulate in France issue demonstration alert ahead of nationwide strike; exercise caution (US Embassy)
  • Massive police presence for Paris as shops close over strike violence fears (RFI
  • EasyJet, Ryanair, British Airways and Eurostar among cancellations due to national strikes    (The Sun)

Accounts to Follow