Striking and protesting across France

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Thousands of people have taken to the streets across France and commuters faced delays as unions staged a nationwide strike for higher salaries, following weeks of walkouts that have hobbled oil refineries and sparked petrol shortages around the country.

Demonstrations took place in dozens of cities across France on Tuesday, as transportation workers, and some high school teachers and public hospital employees went on strike.

Why are people protesting?

  • Protesters and strikers are demanding pay rises that keep up with the soaring cost of living, as France experiences inflation of 6.2 percent – its highest rate in decades.
  • Inflation has risen around the world as economies rebounded from the COVID pandemic and then worsened as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent food and fuel prices soaring.
  • Tuesday’s protests come after the left-wing CGT union rejected a deal over a pay increase that oil giant TotalEnergies struck with two other unions on Friday and called for continued walkouts into a fourth week.
  • The CFDT and CFE-CGC unions, which together represent a majority of the group’s French workers, agreed to a 7 percent pay rise and a financial bonus. But the CGT is holding out for a 10 percent pay rise.
  • Striking workers are demanding higher wages from the windfall profits of energy companies amid high oil and gas prices as Russia’s war in Ukraine aggravates an energy crisis. “Huge profits are being claimed off the back of our work, and we are just claiming our fair share of the wealth,” Axel Persson, CGT rail union spokesperson, told Al Jazeera.