French planes, trains and rubbish hit by strikes

Euro 2016 starts as rubbish piles up on streets of Paris

The Euro 2016 football championship will begin tonight as the railway strike drags on, Air France pilots go on strike, and tonnes of rotting rubbish pile up on the streets of Paris.

Eighty thousand tickets have been sold for the opening match, between France and Romania. But fans who intended to travel to the Stade de France on lines B or D of the RER suburban train may be stranded, as the communist CGT trade union confirmed that more than 90 per cent of drivers on those lines will strike today.

There are unconfirmed reports that the government may requisition workers to limit the effect of strikes on the tournament.

With Air France maintaining a strike notice from tomorrow until June 14th, the football federation Uefa has expressed concern that umpires for some of the 51 matches scheduled to take place in 10 French cities over the next month may have difficulty reaching destinations.


Air France has begun notifying passengers of cancelled flights via text messages. The airline says 20-30 per cent of flights will be cancelled. Flights on airlines affiliated with Air France (Transavia, Hop! and KLM) will not be affected.

The Paris town hall reported that close to a third of rubbish collectors and lorries are on strike, and 3,000 tonnes of refuse have not been collected.

"On the eve of the Euro 2016, rubbish bins are overflowing in many neighbourhoods and rats are coming into the streets," officials from the conservative Les Républicains party said in a statement.

It demanded that the socialist-ruled city immediately hire private companies to deal with the crisis.

Best image

The rubbish incineration plant outside Marseille is also on strike. The train strike continues despite a statement by CGT head

Philippe Martinez

that he was “not sure that blocking [football] supporters gives the best possible image of the CGT.”

High-speed TGV trains are least affected by the strike, with 80 per cent of trains operating. That falls to three-fifths for regional trains, and one in two for the greater Paris region and inter-city lines.

The train strike is now expected to continue at least until the next “national day of mobilisation” against a new labour law, on June 14th. Trade unions and student groups have added two more national protest days, on June 23rd and June 28th.

More funds

In a last-ditch effort to prevent the train strike continuing into the Euros, Mr Valls on Wednesday promised an additional €100 million to modernise France’s railway network.

In the hope of preventing the strikes from disrupting the Euros, Mr Valls and president François Hollande rewrote the contested labour law, made huge financial commitments to fractious sectors of French society, and pleaded with the unions to show “responsibility.”

“The Euro must be a beautiful, popular fête,” Mr Hollande said in a plea at this week’s cabinet meeting. “It’s important for the image of France and the pride of the French.”

Lara Marlowe

Lara Marlowe

Lara Marlowe is Paris Correspondent of The Irish Times