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French taxi, aviation strikes threaten travel chaos Tuesday

French taxi, aviation strikes threaten travel chaos TuesdayTravel across France threatens to be difficult Tuesday as taxi drivers and air traffic controllers join a strike called by three major unions representing France’s 5 million civil servants.

France’s civil aviation authority asked airlines to cut their flights by 20 percent Tuesday as two unions representing air traffic controllers called for a 24-hour strike ending Wednesday morning to demand higher pay and pensions.

Air France says it will guarantee all long-haul flights tomorrow as well as 80 percent of short- and medium-haul flights, though it warned that last minute cancellations can’t be excluded. It’s offering customers with tickets to fly tomorrow to postpone for later this week without cost. Lufthansa is canceling 10 flights between Germany and France.

Taxis plan to clog access to airports near Paris, Toulouse, Marseille and Bordeaux, as well as at Porte Maillot on the western edge of the capital, as part of a continued protest against the proliferation of car services such as Uber. CGT Taxis issued a statement accusing the government of trying to “kill the profession with savage deregulation.” The union says 60,000 taxi jobs are at risk.

A taxi strike last June 25 descended into violence as some Uber drivers were beaten and their cars burned.

The largest strike Tuesday involves a call by the CGT, Force Ouvriere, and Sud for workers in schools, hospitals and local government to stay off work.

They are demanding a return to automatic pay increases that were interrupted in 2010, as well as an end to planned reforms of France’s health care system and local government. “Created in an environment of austerity, they threaten to destroy public jobs, perturb public services and worsen the conditions of public workers,” FO said in a statement.

The freeze in automatic pay increases has cost civil servants 8 percentage points in the purchasing power of their salaries, FO says.

The unions are planning a march through Paris from Montparnasse to Invalides starting at 2 p.m.

Source: Bloomberg
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