Updated: French ski lift workers threaten February half-term strike

Updated 12.45pm: Additional comments from union leader Eric Becker.

February half-term ski holidays in the French Alps are reported to be at risk due to a threatened strike by lift workers.

Two main unions covering lift and seasonal workers plan “unlimited” industrial action from January 31 as part of wider protests against pension reforms in France.

Walkouts are being targeted over the school half-term period with the capability of closing scores of ski stations, The Times reported.

Half-term in the UK is split over two weeks, from February 11-25, while the French equivalent runs for four weeks from February 4.

Eric Becker, head of the lift operators’ branch of the Force Ouvriere union, was quoted as saying: “We have decided to call for a strike during the February holidays because demands are listened to more during this period.”

However, AFP reported that the “unlimited” action on January 31 would not mean employees would walk out indefinitely, and quoted Becker as saying “the lifts will operate normally from the next day: we do not want to further weaken companies already in difficulty”.

The AFP report said the “unlimited” notice was to allow workers to take part in a subsequent day of action in February.

The other main union, Confederation Generale du Travail, also issued an open-ended notice of intention to strike.

It aims for “especially strong action” during the ski world cup in Courchevel and Meribel from February 6-19.

Rolling stoppages are expected across resorts rather than all lifts being closed at once.

Pascal de Thiersant, director of the Society des 3 Vallees list company, told the newspaper: “After almost two years of Covid then the energy problem, the unions want to pile it on again. That’s really shooting themselves in the foot.”

More than a million people marched in protest on January 12 and public transport was badly disrupted by strikes that day in the first round of what unions warned would be a long-term effort to prevent an increase in the retirement age from 62 to 64. 

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