The winter holiday in February for hundreds of thousands of Britons could be ruined after French unions voted to close lifts during the school holidays.
The two major seasonal and elevator workers’ unions announced an “unlimited” strike action from January 31, as a dispute over pension reforms continues.
Strikes during the half term would hit alpine resorts at their busiest and could close dozens of ski stations, The Times reported.
Eric Becker, head of the lift operators division of the Force Ouvriere trade union, said: “We have decided to call a strike during the February holidays because demands are more listened to during this period.”
Courchevel ski area (file photo). The two major seasonal and elevator workers’ unions announced an ‘unlimited’ strike action from January 31
An elevator traveling over Courchevel (file photo). The French trade unions voted to close lifts during the school holidays in February
Demonstrators gather in Paris on January 19 to protest the pension reform
The spring break in the UK is split over two weeks, from 11 to 25 February. In France, it spans four weeks, from February 4 to March 4.
Confédération Générale du Travail, the other major union, has filed an indefinite strike.
It called for “particularly strong action” at the Ski World Cup in Courchevel and Méribel, which runs from March 16 to March 20.
It is unlikely that Britons with bookings at French ski resorts will be able to get their money back during the planned strike, as travel companies are technically listing the holiday as sold.
The insurance rarely covers skiing days missed due to a strike.
The start of the extended action coincides with the following day of massive protests and strikes against President Emmanuel Macron’s project to raise the retirement age.
Rolling interruptions, mainly in the Alps and Pyrenees, are expected in all resorts, rather than all lifts closing at once.
Pascal de Thiersant, director of the lift company Société des 3 Vallées, said: ‘After French strikes target ski lifts almost two years from Covid than the energy problem, the unions want to pile it up again. They really shoot themselves in the foot with that.’
Hundreds of thousands of Britons visit France during the spring break in February.
Sources told The Times that the strikes could spell “disaster” for the UK ski sector, which is recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is exactly what we didn’t need after so many years of disruption,” a source told the paper. ‘Sales are going very well… but what if everyone goes on strike? That’s another story.’
Macron’s government continues to press the pension reform, which will reach parliament at the end of March, despite widespread public disapproval.
More than a million people marched in France on January 19 as part of the national protest of the workforce against Macron’s proposed pension reforms and raising the official retirement age from 62 to 64. This disrupted public transport, schools and much of the civil service of the country.
Some strikers clashed with police, with the worst of the trouble taking place in Paris around Bastille Square.
Protesters threw bottles, bins and smoke grenades at police, who responded with tear gas and had to disperse the troublemakers.
President Macron said he welcomed “democratic protest,” but added that any riots would be met with “the full force of the law.”
The far-left CGT union said more than two million people had attended protests across France, and 400,000 in Paris alone.
More than 65 percent of the public is against the change in the pension system.
Retirement at 64 is the lowest age in Europe.
The trade unions and the main opposition parties, both the extreme left and the extreme right, say it amounts to “cruel” and “brutal” treatment.
During the Christmas season, the major ski resorts in Europe suffered from a lack of snow. Rising energy costs have also affected resorts this season.