Strikes in France: Unrest looms ahead of Olympics From pharmacists to rubbish collectors

Strikes in France: Unrest looms ahead of Olympics From pharmacists to rubbish collectors

May can feel like a month when everything comes to a halt in France. A number of public holidays, school breaks, and the deadline for unused paid leave falling at the end of the month all combine, meaning many people take time off of work.

However, this year, the slowdown may be just as much due to strike action.

A number of unions have called for strike action in the latter half of the month, ranging from single days of intense action to extended protest action.

In some of the latter cases, this action is set to last until the end of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in September.

Below, French portal looks at the main dates strike action has been called for, the sectors concerned, and what services will be affected.

Pharmacists – May 18 - 20, May 30

The leading pharmacist union in France is calling on stores to close on Monday May 30, in protest over medicine shortages and economic issues affecting pharmacy owners.

A strike of on-call pharmacists on the weekend of May 18 - May 20 is also set to take place.

Paris rail workers – May 21

National rail workers conducting services around the French capital are calling for a strike on Tuesday, May 21, over working conditions and bonuses offered during the Olympic period.

Unions say the bonuses are not enough for the work that will be required.

Local Transilien (commuter rail) and RER services that cross through the capital will be mostly affected.

Although the strike is happening in conjunction with action by Parisian public transport workers, the two are not directly linked.

In addition, the strike will not impact trains travelling further afield to or from the capital, with national services currently remaining untouched.

A nationwide strike of ticket inspectors that was set to take place in May was cancelled earlier this year.

RATP Parisian public transport staff – May to September

A renewable strike by workers at the RATP – which runs Paris’ public transport services – has been in place since February.

Major unions including the CGT called for the action over low pay and working conditions.

The action will last until September 9 i.e the end of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, although the notice is more like a warning that strike action could happen on any of the days in this period.

Services will not be impacted everyday, but those travelling in Paris are recommended to check if disruptions are announced during the time they are in the capital.

Refuse workers in Paris – May 14 - 16, May 22 - 24

Refuse workers (éboueurs) will strike over two separate periods this month in the French capital over pay increases and an Olympic bonus.

Another strike – between July 1 and September 9 – is also scheduled if demands are not met.

Strikes by refuse workers were prominent in media portrayals of strikes in 2023 over pension reforms, with photos and videos of Paris’ trash-strewn streets widely shared.

Teachers and school workers – May 14

Teachers will walk out of schools across France on Tuesday (May 14) over changes to the national education curriculum.

These changes were proposed by current prime minister Gabriel Attal when he was Education Minister.

Parents are advised to contact schools and check local information points, as closures are expected.

A number of demonstrations and marches will take place across France.

Civil servants – May to September

Civil servants across a number of sectors may strike until the end of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, with multiple unions filing for action.

The strikes concern working conditions (including teleworking and the right to disconnect), and the impact of the Olympic Games on services.

Similar to the RATP strikes, it does not mean workers will strike continuously, but services may be affected by walkouts at any time during this period.