France On Strike: Planes, Trains & Post-Production Workers; Cannes Implications?


A wave of disruptive strikes has been rolling through France for the past few weeks. From train workers to Air France staff and others, employees have walked out and largely paralyzed the country’s transport systems. That created a knock-on effect for executives attending this week’s Mip-TV market in Cannes, and the situation could also be a headache for folks trying to get to the Cannes Film Festival in a month’s time. But it’s not just rail workers, flight crews and Sorbonne students, among others. Four post-production groups have now staged a three-day shutdown. What is this, 1968?


Things aren’t expected to reach the crescendo of that watershed year by next month when the film festival rolls around. But it’s notable that 2018 marks a half a century since massive civil unrest and general strikes led to François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard calling for the cancellation of the Riviera proceedings.

What could be an issue is that the train strikes are meant to go on for a full three months as workers seek to thwart the reforms of President Emmanuel Macron nearly one year into his term. Trains are running three days out of every five with voyagers told to check into the SNCF website at 5 PM the night before a journey to see if it’s being maintained. A lot of folks train in to Cannes from Paris, London and elsewhere.

At Air France, strike days have consistently been added throughout the rest of April as those employees look for a 6% pay increase. It’s unclear if the walkouts will continue into May. Already ahead of tomorrow’s Cannes festival lineup reveal, it was a juggling act to find trains or planes to Paris from where I live in Provence.

As for the post-production bodies, groups representing editors, sound effects artists, sound mixers and sound editors have stepped off the job while filmmakers rush to prep for Cannes. They’re looking for better terms and are protesting runaway post-production with a lot of work being farmed out to places like Belgium.


A statement from them further reads: “The collective production agreement signed in November 2013 largely ignored the professions that intervene after filming, thus introducing a difference in treatment between employees of the same film.”

Didier Lesage, president of the Sound Mixers’ Association told Le Monde, “For two years we’ve been alerting producer unions like the UPC, SPI and API. We know there is less money, but the post-production trades, which have always been less organized, are particularly fragile today.”

The groups are holding general assemblies to discuss the matter. They’ve reportedly said that if no concrete proposals are found after the three days ending tomorrow, the strike will continue next week.

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