Mon. Mar 20th, 2023

On 31 January, two French unions representing workers in ski resorts plan to start unlimited strike action during February. It’s the busiest time of year for resorts and threatens to upset lots of holidaymakers during school holidays. Many of these resorts were also heavily affected by the lack of snow earlier this season.

The two unions concerned are Force Ouvrière (FO), representing ski lift operators and Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT), representing seasonal workers—both are protesting against the French government’s plan to reform the age of retirement.

The head of the FO union, Eric Becker, said in a statement that it didn’t want to hurt companies that are suffering but that demands were always listened to more during this period. The CGT union has also called for strong strike action to happen during the Ski World Cup which is taking place in Courcheval and Méribel from 16 to 20 March.

The French school holidays in February are always staggered across a one-month period by region, so that ski resorts can benefit for longer—this year, the holidays will run from 4 February to 4 March.

Millions of holidaymakers will also arrive from other EU countries plus the U.K.—the U.K. Foreign Office issued a warning to British holidaymakers planning to travel that lots of services could be disrupted. Railway union workers also plan to strike on 31 January and are considering further disruption.

Some ski resorts are playing down the impact that the strikes will have. Resorts in the Portes du Soleil ski area that covers both France and Switzerland believe that many workers are not part of the unions and resorts won’t be badly affected.

Over one million people took part in strike action on 19 January in protest at the proposed raise of the retirement age to 64 from 62 years. In the case of these two unions, they are also demanding better wages and better unemployment insurance.

Anyone planning to travel to France during the school holidays should seek protection through travel insurance.

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