Olympics-Strikes could mar Paris 2024 run-up if worker demands not met, union says

By Layli Foroudi and Dominique Vidalon

PARIS (Reuters) -France’s CGT union on Friday called on the government to shift gears in its talks with public sector workers about their labour conditions and pay during the 2024 Olympics and threatened strike action over the next months if its demands are not met.

“If we don’t have commitments at the beginning of 2024, then in January, February, March, April, we will take action,” CGT union representative Celine Verzeletti told Reuters.

Labour unions are turning up the volume as the government has started negotiations with public sector workers including in the police, transport and healthcare sectors to secure sufficient staffing during the upcoming Games.

Starting in late July – the middle of the national holiday season – the Olympics are set to put further strain on Paris’s workforce, amid heightened security threats and chronic staffing shortages at hospitals and on the transport grid.

So far, talks with the government and Stanislas Guerini, the minister for state workers, mainly aimed at persuading workers to accept not taking leave during the Games, have not yielded results, Verzeletti said.

“He doesn’t say much and that worries us,” she said, adding that in many sectors, the additional needs of those having to work during the Games like organising childcare, accommodation, and travel are not being sufficiently taken into account.

A spokesperson for Stanislas Guerini’s office said that specific measures for the Olympics period are in the process of being decided.

They said that the prime minister will communicate specifics about compensation for workers in the coming days. The measures will be presented to unions during a meeting planned for December.

The Paris 2024 organising committee did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment.

The CGT was the driving force behind months-long strikes and protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s widely unpopular pension reforms earlier this year.

France’s Alliance police union this week gave the government a Dec. 31 deadline to respond to its demands.

“All police officers in France will be asked to be fully available,” Alliance representative David Leyraud told France 3 television. “We don’t know how we’ll be housed, what we’ll do with our children, or how much compensation we’ll get.”

Paris’s public hospital body AP-HP this month announced it would pay nurses and doctors weekly bonuses of 1,200 to 2,500 euros if they accept giving up their holiday plans.

State-owned transport operator RATP has also started talks with workers, offering daily extra payments of 15 euros, according to French media reports.

(Writing by Tassilo Hummel, Editing by Toby Davis)