Transport chaos in France as air traffic controllers, taxis, public employees strike

REUTERS/Jacky Naegen

Striking taxi drivers blockaded Paris's airports and its ring road on Tuesday morning and one in five flights were cancelled as disgruntled air traffic controllers and taxi drivers went on strike alongside civil servants and teachers.


About 1,200 striking taxi drivers set out to cause chaos in Paris Tuesday in a strike protesting at alleged unfair competition from Uber-type amateur driver networks.

Dozens of strikers set up a roadblock outside Orly airport, where a minibus hit one of the pickets, injuring him in the leg and prompting his comrades to attack it and force the passengers to get off.

Pickets also disrupted traffic at Charles De Gaulle airport and strikers' cars blocked the périphérique on the northern side of Paris.

The French civil aviation authority DGAC called Monday on airlines to cancel one in five flights as a preventive measure ahead of the air traffic controllers' strike.

Air France said it would operate all of its long-haul flights and more than 80 per cent of its short- and medium-haul flights in France and elsewhere in Europe, but that "last-minute delays or cancellations cannot be ruled out".

EasyJet said it had cancelled 35 flights, mainly within France but also to or from Switzerland, Italy and Spain.

 Who is on strike and why?

  • Air traffic controllers' unions are protesting at the loss of some 1,000 jobs in less than 10 years and want to be exempted from proposed changes to how salaries are calculated;
  • Taxi drivers say their jobs are threatened by competition from taxi app company Uber and other non-licensed private-hire cabs, known in Frabce as VTC. The strikers will be joined by a delegation of drivers from Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom;
  • 5.6 million civil servants have been called to protest against labour reforms proposed last September affecting pay and career advancement.The Force Ouvrière union says that, with inflation, a July 2010 freeze on the index used to calculate salaries has cost civil servants eight per cent of their purchasing power.The striking unions say that some 150,000 jobs have been lost since 2007 and that the hospital sector is especially in need of new jobs;
  • Teachers in kindergarten and primary schools want higher pay - their union predicts a stay-away rate of up to 45 per cent in Paris;
  • Farmers are upset over falling prices and their unions are demanding that distributors and major food companies pay equitable prices for their produce and livestock.

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