Scuffles Erupt As France Begins Nationwide Strikes For Higher Wages

In Paris on Tuesday, protestors clashed with police and broke shop windows as French trade unions began a nationwide strike to demand higher wages as inflation continues to soar.

According to the interior ministry, 11 people were arrested in the capital as 107,000 people around the country, including 13,000 in Paris, joined the protest led by left-wing parties and some trade unions. 

The strike, which primarily affects public sectors including schools and transportation, is part of the industrial action that has paralyzed the country’s major oil refineries for weeks, weighing on supplies at the pump, and leading the government to order employees to go back to their jobs as France grapples with an energy crisis. Unions sought to expand industrial action from oil refineries to other essential economic sectors.

“The question of wages is the French people’s number one priority,” the head of the General Confederation of Labour (CGT) union, Philippe Martinez, said ahead of the march, according to Reuters

“It’s more than urgent,” he added.

Tuesday’s strike cut regional train traffic by half, while some suburban services in the Paris region as well as bus services were also affected, according to operator RATP. Trade unions also hope to bring out staff in the food and healthcare sectors.

The day’s protests were relatively small compared to those of the yellow vest movement of 2018, where people protested a rents reform during President Emmanuel Macron’s first term. But, in the backdrop of a Europe-wide energy crisis, the strikes have proven to become Macron’s most challenging predicament since his re-election in May.

Prolonged strikes could have “heavy consequences” for the country’s electricity supplies for the winter as maintenance work for some reactors at nuclear power group EDF are delayed, the country’s national grid operator RTE warned on Tuesday. 

The industrial action at TotalEnergies, meanwhile, which has been going on for four weeks with no end yet in sight, continues to squeeze petrol supplies as the government faces the possibility of wider walkouts taking down other parts of the infrastructure.

TotalEnergies on Friday reached a deal that includes a 7% increase and a bonus with other unions, but the CGT union has continued with their walkouts demanding 10% pointing to inflation and the oil company’s profits. 

The strikes add to an already tense political climate. Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Sunday that the government is set to pass the 2023 budget using special constitutional powers that would allow it to bypass a vote in parliament.

Information for this briefing was found via Reuters, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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