Half-term ski holidays for Brits could be ruined after French unions vote to shut lifts

The February half-term ski holidays for millions of Britons could be ruined after French unions voted to close lifts during the school holidays.

Two major unions of seasonal and lift workers have announced ‘indefinite’ strike action from January 31, as the dispute over pension reforms intensifies.

The walkout during half term would affect alpine resorts during their busiest periods, and could close dozens of ski stations, The Times reported.

Eric Baker, head of the lift operators’ branch of the Force Ouvrière union, said: ‘We have decided to call for a strike during the February holidays because demands are heard more during that period.’

Image: Courchevel 1850m (file photo) The two major weather and lift unions have announced an ‘indefinite’ strike from January 31.

Photo: The lift at Courchevel 1850m (file photo). French unions voted in February to close lifts during the school break.

In the UK half term is split over two weeks from 11-25 February. In France it spans four weeks from February 4 to March 4.

The General Confederation of Labour, the other central union, submitted an open notice of intent to strike.

It called for ‘particularly tough action’ during the Ski World Cup in Courchevel and Meribel from March 16 to 20.

It is unlikely that Britons with bookings at French ski resorts will be able to get refunds during the planned strike action as travel companies will technically be offering the holiday.

Insurance will rarely cover ski days missed due to a strike.

Photo: People gather for a demonstration against pension reforms in Paris, France on January 19, 2023

The protracted action will begin a day after mass protests and sit-ins against President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.

Rolling stoppages, particularly in the Alps and Pyrenees, are expected at resorts rather than closing all lifts at once.

Pascal de Thiersant, director of the Société des 3 Vallées lift company, said: ‘After almost two years of Covid-targeted ski lifts after the French attacks, the unions want to pile it up again. It’s really shooting itself in the foot.’

President Macron said he welcomed “democratic protests” but said any riots would be met with “the full force of the law”.

Macron’s government is pushing ahead with pension reforms, which reach parliament at the end of March, despite widespread public disapproval.

On January 19, more than a million people marched in France as part of national workforce protests against Macron’s proposed pension reforms that would raise the official retirement age from 62 to 64. It affected public transport, schools and much of the country’s civil service.

Some of the strikers clashed with police, with the most trouble around Bastille Square in Paris. Protesters hurled bottles, cans and smoke grenades at the police, who responded with tear gas and charged to disperse the rioters.

The far-left CGT union said there were more than two million people in demonstrations across France and 400,000 in Paris alone.

More than 65 percent of the public opposes changes in the pension system.

The retirement age of 64 is the youngest in Europe.

Unions and main opposition parties, on the hard left and hard right, say it amounts to ‘tyranny’ and brutality.

During Christmas, Europe’s major ski resorts suffered from a lack of snow.

Rising energy costs have also affected resorts this season.

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