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tl;dr: Is there a resource that warns me of upcoming strikes that affect public transport in France

Recently I was forced to change travel plans very last-minute upon learning of a railway strike. In the light of the current political situation in France and the upcoming football championship but asking completely in general:

  1. Is there a resource where upcoming strikes that affect trains, buses, flights, local public transport in France are announced in advance?
  2. Bonus question: If trains are affected, is there a way to find out which connections will be guaranteed?

Ideally I am looking for a resource similar to the one described here for Italy.

  • 38
    The French tend to only strike in certain months. They are October, July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August, and February. – TheMathemagician Jun 1 '16 at 14:53
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    @TheMathemagician And even in those months only on days ending on -i (in French). – Some wandering yeti Jun 1 '16 at 20:33
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    @ptityeti These days one can't even rely on the French any more. They wouldn't let my airplane land on a dimanche. Had to spend 3 long, dreadful days with friends in a airline-paid hotel in Copenhagen until I got another flight home. Best strike ever ;) – linac Jun 1 '16 at 21:58
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    The main idea for a strike is to make it so inconvenient so that there would be as much people affected as possible thus creating a news-worsy story. Imagine a strike, that everyone knows about and everyone can easily avoid. Would anyone care about it? Would people going on strike achieve their goals if no one cares? Most probably no. Which leads to a conclusion that most probably you will not find a relevant information about strikes. – Salvador Dali Jun 1 '16 at 22:27
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    French here. I'd like to get an answer to this question too :). More seriously : it depends on were you want to go. For example, in Toulouse you'll have to go to www.tisseo.fr to have information on how strikes affect the local buses and metros. – GreenOwl Jun 2 '16 at 7:52
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This website:

http://www.cestlagreve.fr/

has information on most of the strikes. With a little bit of google translate, you can search by tag for the trains or other types of transport. And as the commenter below pointed out, there is even an app.

If you are worried about the trains in Paris, for example, search by "RATP", "SNCF", or "Paris". For the cross-country train system, type "TGV".

In my experience, Uber is alive and well during a strike, even in the suburbs.

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    That's a great resource! There even exists an app. – mts Jun 1 '16 at 22:50
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    I love that domain name :-) – Mike Harris Jun 6 '16 at 20:11
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Source: French, 32 years of living in France.

First of all, while we French have a reputation for going on strikes often, it is actually quite disproportionate. For example, I have myself not participated to a single strike, ever, and few of my friends have. I have, however, experienced a few :)

The strikes are more frequent in certain domains of activities, where the unions are most active. They are most frequent among government employees (notably in the Education sector) and current and former national/regional companies (notably in the SNCF).

With that out of the way, you have to understand that the goal of strikes is to pressure higher-ups in order to weigh on decisions (past or coming), and the pressure is generally applied by creating discomfort among the users/clients.

The result is that strikes are generally not announced too long in advance so that said users/clients do not have the time to take appropriate counter-measures and do experience the discomfort (and thus complain). The present situation is actually somewhat of a counter-example, with its long-ranging announces.

However, while the intention of strike has to be announced in advance (in public services), no single individual has to declare its own intention until the last moment. Though generally people express their own intent informally (to colleagues), they are allowed to change their mind one way or another (unless requisitioned, in some specific sectors such as security or health).

This individual freedom makes it very difficult to work out the exact impact of a strike in advance. Companies and other media agencies attempt to estimate it by polling, and thus obtain an estimated ratio of people on strikes, but (1) this is an estimate and (2) it does not specify exactly who will be available where and when.

For the case of primary schools, where classes start around 9am, it is fairly easy to take a roll-call at 9am and see which teachers made it and which sent a letter/mail informing they are on strike. Though of course, by this time the children are there already and those at work have to make do.

For other cases, though, where the individual schedules of employees do not line up on such a neat boundary, the impact of the strike is discovered throughout the day: each time an employee shows up, or let the employer knows she is on strike.

Thus, for Air Traffic Control or the SNCF, where employees show up a few at a time (not 9-to-5 jobs), the impact is assessed little by little, and flights/trains cancelled, delayed, rerouted, ... to the best of the ability of the management and present workers.

This means that even if you know there is a strike a given day, you can only predict it will be a difficult day for some people, but now who they are and how difficult it will be for them... if you need to travel on such a day, arm yourself with patience, and a few luck charms.

  • Good information! – Nathan Shoesmith Jun 1 '16 at 20:09
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    It's only in the public service that strikes have to be announced in advance (préavis). Private sector workers can walk out at the drop of a hat. – Relaxed Jun 2 '16 at 5:55
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Unfortunately I think there is no governemental website listing all planned strikes.

Most of the time, we know upcoming strikes just a few days ahead with the news (TV, web, etc).

So your best bet is to go directly to the public transport websites, generally they have to inform users about strikes, or even call them directly.

For your second question, the trafic info website of the SNCF allows you to search for specific journeys to see if they will be maintained or not.

  • +1 but waiting to accept for a bit longer in case someone comes around or decides to build such a website ;) – mts Jun 1 '16 at 14:34
  • I somehow doubt that a website would be built if it doesn't already exist ;) – Nathan Shoesmith Jun 1 '16 at 14:40
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There seems to be no dedicated site displaying French Strikes, but the below information may be useful.

Strikes (les grèves) in France affect public transport services fairly often. Here are some useful sites for up-to-the-minute information during France's industrial disputes and manifestations.

Click here to view the useful links - there are too many to list in this answer

The French & Worldwide Media will update you on strike, this example tells you of current and soon upcoming strikes

The French are often striking, so try and be aware...

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I would suggest Twitter as a source for this kind of information - anything that will be significant (not very small region but the whole country) will be easy to find there. https://twitter.com/search?q=france+strike for example will find a fair number of articles about the SNCF strike that you're referring to, as well as some recent past strikes.

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