France: Protesters gather on streets in strike against reform
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Dozens of flights and trains were cancelled and ferries were delayed due to French workers taking industrial action in protest at President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to raise the pension age from 62 to 64.
Air traffic controllers and rail staff were among those who walked out.
EasyJet and British Airways cancelled at least 18 and 13 flights respectively between the UK and France, affecting passengers flying to and from Bristol, Gatwick, Heathrow and Luton Airports.
Air France axed four flights between Heathrow and Paris.
Under consumer law, affected passengers were entitled to be re-booked on to alternative flights or offered a refund, but will not be eligible for compensation because the cause of the disruption is outside the airlines’ control.
A easyJet spokeswoman said: “Impacted customers are being notified in advance and offered the option to change their flight for free or receive a refund.
“While this is outside of our control, we would like to apologise to customers for any inconvenience they may experience as a result of the strike action.”
Eurostar cancelled 16 of the 26 trains scheduled between London St Pancras and Paris.
There are no cross-Channel trains from St Pancras after a 2.31pm departure to the French capital.
A further six trains due to run between St Pancras and Brussels were also cancelled.
Eurostar warned passengers that the general strike in France “could extend beyond” Tuesday.
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It will “involve disruption across multiple sectors, including national rail services and it will have an impact on the availability of some of our crew”, the company added.
Ferry passengers travelling between Dover and Calais were told to expect disruption on Tuesday.
P&O Ferries sailings were delayed by up to 65 minutes.
A spokeswoman for the company said: “Due to national action in France today we are experiencing disruption to our services.
“We are recommending that customers reschedule all non-essential travel.
“P&O customers due to travel today have been notified and can contact our help centre to amend their booking.”
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French unions said they aimed at “bringing France to a standstill” for this day of mobilisation against the postponement of the legal retirement age.
The CGT announced that fuel shipments were blocked in all refineries in France.
The pension reform is currently being debated in the Senate and should be adopted soon.
The unions called for a renewable strike in several sectors, from public transport to education, including refineries and energy.
Numerous rallies were organised throughout France.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega
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