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Radio France Internationale
Radio France Internationale

French transport minister attempts to allay fears over Christmas holiday strikes

A screen displays a series of flight cancellations at Orly Airport near Paris (illustration) © Reuters

Transport Minister Clément Beaune has told French media "there will be trains, there will be planes," for Christmas, despite strike threats by air and rail operators for the festive holiday season.

He told France 2 Television on Monday,"I am quite confident that there will be no major disruptions" on the rail network, adding "we do not anticipate major disruptions in the air for departures on vacation".

The end of year celebrations are overshadowed by the threat of strikes by several airlines in France as well as on the SNCF national rail network.

The rail union SUD-Rail on Friday confirmed its call for a strike from 15 December until 19 December over the first weekend of the school holidays.

The first weekend of December already saw major disruptions for long distance train travellers after rail unions went on strike over salaries for train controllers.

At Air France, the UNAC and SNGAF unions representing cabin crew have issued strike notice for the period from 22 December to 2 January 2023.

The pilots of the Guadeloupe-based company Corsair are also called to go on strike from 16 to 22 December while Air Antilles may also see hostesses and stewards stop work from 17 to 22 December.

Right to rest

The spectre of a strike during the holiday period also hovers over the French subsidiary of EasyJet.

"For those who have tickets...there is a very good chance that flights will be provided during the Christmas holidays," he said. However, Beaune also warned that there is always the possibility of last minute problems".

On the rail network, he warned that there may be some disturbances on some TGV lines, but that the government is working to "minimise them".

"After two years of Covid, I believe that the French have the right to rest, to find their families, to take a little vacation at Christmas", explained the minister who called for "responsible" behaviour, asking workers not to "add more trouble" to the anxieties and difficulties created by the international economic downturn.

He said that negotiations are currently underway at the SNCF headquarters.

"I think that purchasing power is well taken into account in social dialogue at SNCF," he said indicating an offer of a 6 percent rise had been made.

(with wires)

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