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Paris Metro strike called as workers battle for higher pay

Commuters in Paris face a transit strike next week as unions representing all city public transport workers call for a walk-out in a dispute over pay.

Paris Metro strike called as workers battle for higher pay
Workers on Paris Metro, bus and tram services will walk out. Photo by Philippe LOPEZ / AFP

A joint statement from the CGT, FO, Unsa, Solidaires and La Base unions – all the unions representing workers at the RATP group – has called for a one-day strike on Friday, February 18th.

RATP covers all the city’s Metro, tram and bus services and some of the suburban RER trains. Other RER routes, and the regional Transilien trains, are run by SNCF so will not be affected by Friday’s strike.

RATP management has proposed a 0.4 percent pay increase, according to the statement, which the unions do not think is enough.

“The profits generated by RATP since 2015 exceed €1 billion. Those of 2021 will be around €200 million,” said the joint statement.

The hardline CGT union is demanding a three percent pay rise for its workers.

Workers in essential sections such as transport are required to give 48 hours notice if they intend to follow calls to strike. RATP will then use the advance notice to prepare a reduced timetable of services, which is usually published the evening before the strike.

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PARIS

MAP: Where and when will Paris ban cars from the city centre?

Authorities in Paris have drawn up ambitious plans to limit traffic in the historic city centre - here's how the plans will work and the revised timetable for introduction.

MAP: Where and when will Paris ban cars from the city centre?

It was announced on Wednesday that authorities in Paris had delayed the introduction of their plan to limit vehicle use in the city centre.

Here’s how the new rules will work, and when they will be introduced.

Where?

This does not concern the whole of Paris, but only arrondissements 1-4, which make up much of the historic city centre that runs along the Seine and attracts the most tourists.

The below map from newspaper Le Parisien shows the central zone that will be affected by the new rules

When?

The plans were first announced in May 2021 and were set to come into effect in 2022.

However on Thursday, Paris authorities announced that the start date would be pushed back to 2024, as more preparation time was needed to implement the changes. They will also be conducting a full public enquiry throughout 2022.

The zone was also renamed the zone apaisée (calm zone).

The decision comes after the Paris Police préfecture, which has joint responsibility for the project along with City Hall, published a letter saying they did not support the immediate introduction of the plans due to concerns about access for emergency services, as well as the economic impact on the city.

An exact date for the introduction in 2024 has not been set, but Paris deputy mayor Emmanuel Grégoire said it will start at the beginning of 2024, ahead the Paris Olympics, which will be held in July and August.

What?

The plans as envisaged by City Hall don’t constitute a complete ban on all vehicles in the city centre, and there are many exceptions.

The main target is through traffic – vehicles driving through the central zone on their way to another part of the city – which according to David Belliard, the Paris deputy mayor in charge of transportation, accounts for 50 percent of all traffic in the city centre.

There will be exemptions for people who live in the central zones to use cars, as well as allowances for delivery drivers, the disabled, taxis, VTC vehicles such as Uber, buses and car-sharing.

Also allowed in will be people whose “destination is the calm zone” – Belliard explained: “If I live there, if I work there, if I go to the cinema, to see friends, or to a shop… All this will be allowed.”

The zone will be enforced by both police checks at the entry and exit of the zone and also by more technical means such as number-plate recognition cameras for residents, although City Hall concedes that much will depend on “self regulation” of people following the rules.

Even with all the above exemptions, City Hall estimate that their plans will cut around 250,000 journeys a day.

Do Parisians support it?

Some do, some don’t. According to City Hall, 78 percent of people who answered their online and paper surveys (around 7,500 people) support the concept of limiting city-centre traffic.

But the project has also drawn vociferous criticism from many, who claim it will simply push traffic out to the less central arrondissements – which are less wealthy and attract fewer tourists – in effect simply moving the problem. The mayors of the 5th, 6th and 7th arrondissements, which lie just outside the zone, are opposed to it.

Opponents also claim it will unfairly target commuters from the outer suburbs, where public transport is often poor.

The scheme is part of a long-running effort from Paris authorities to make the city centre less polluted and more car and pedestrian friendly which has included pedestrianising the Quais along the Seine, barring traffic on certain roads such as the Rue de Rivoli and adding extra cycle lanes throughout the city centre. 

Banning older cars

In addition to the city-centre ban, Paris authorities are also phasing in restrictions on older and more polluting vehicles, based on the Crit-Air sticker system.

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