In France, massive education strike demands better COVID-19 response

By G. Dunkel
January 17, 2022

In France, a Jan. 13 massive strike protested ineffective government COVID-19 plans for schools. The countrywide strike was organized by unions representing teachers, other school staff, parents and students.

All French unions representing workers in education supported the call for the strike, along with student unions which represent secondary and university students. Parents and their organizations generally supported the strike. Since there is a constitutional right to strike in France — although essential public services have to be maintained — principals, directors, administrative staff and other office workers struck.

French teachers on strike, Jan. 12.

The unions estimated that 75% to 80% of secondary and higher education schools and 60% of primary schools and daycare centers were closed.

The main strike demands were the need for the government to consider faculty, staff and students when policy changes are made. Government rules have changed 19 times since the start of the pandemic in early 2021. Other demands were the need for adequate personal protective equipment, better ventilation and more consistent testing.

Many of the more militant unions want another day of action in February.