French Strike Vocabulary

France is infamous for its numerous strikes. But what is the French strike vocabulary? Here you’ll find a list of French English strike vocabulary, as well as useful informations about strikes in France + a bilingual French English story to learn the French strike vocabulary in context.

This French strike vocabulary may come handy when you listen to the French radio, or read news about strikes in France

1 – French Strike Vocabulary – La Grève en France

  1. Une grève – a strike – strangely, it’s also a fancy word for a shore (usually, we say “une plage” – a beach)
  2. Les grèves – strikes
  3. Une grève générale – a strike followed by most unions around the same claims
  4. Une grève surprise – Strikers are supposed to give a notice before they strike in France. It’s not always the case though.
  5. Une grève sauvage – a strike organised by the workers without the unions
  6. Faire la grève – to be on strike
  7. Être en grève – to be on strike
  8. Un / une gréviste – someone who is on strike (note the change of direction of the accent over the “e”)
  9. Un piquet de grève – someone who takes a stand and blocks the entry to a workplace / tries to block the working process
  10. Le droit de grève – the right to be on strike
  11. Un préavis de grève – strike notice (French public sector unions must give 5 days notice before going on strike)

2 – Strikes in France – Unions

  1. Un syndicat – union
  2. Un représentant, un élu syndical – union representative
  3. Un délégué – a delegate
  4. Une action sociale – solidarity measures
  5. Le dialogue social – social dialog
  6. Résoudre un conflit – to solve a conflict

3 – French Protest Vocabulary

  1. Une manifestation – a demonstration, protest march
  2. Une manif – say the f – slang for “manifestation”
  3. Un manifestant, une manifestante – someone who walks in a protest
  4. Un défilé, un cortège – an organised walk
  5. Une opération escargot – a French expression describing a sort of protest when trucks block the highways by driving on all the lanes and very slowly.

french strike vocabulary

4 – French Strike Police

  1. Les CRS – “Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité” – police specialised in crowd control
  2. “CRS : SS” – a very famous slogan that is often heard during demonstrations and strikes in France
  3. Les forces de l’ordre – police
  4. La police – police
  5. Un policier, une policière – police officer
  6. Un casseur – slang – someone looking for trouble in a riot, literally “breakers”
  7. Séquester – to hold captive
  8. Prendre en otage – to take as an hostage

5 – French Strikes – Workers and Employers

  1. Un travailleur, une travailleuse – a worker
  2. Un ouvrier / une ouvrière – a blue-collar worker
  3. Un employé / une employée – a white-collar worker
  4. Un emploi – a job
  5. Un boulot – a job (slang)
  6. Travailler – to work
  7. Bosser – to work (slang)
  8. Un patron – a boss (often used in factories)
  9. Un boss – a boss (yes the French often use the English word)
  10. Un employeur – a job provider, boss

6 – French Strikes Claims

  1. Un salaire – a salary
  2. Une indémnité, une indémnisation  – compensation
  3. Les avantages sociaux – benefits
  4. Les conditions de travail – work environment / conditions
  5. La retraite – retirement
  6. Les heures supplémentaires – overtime
  7. Les congés payés – paid leave
  8. Une revendication – demand, claim
  9. La précarité de l’emploi – job insecurity
  10. Un licenciement – layoff
  11. La compression de personnel – staff reduction
  12. Le chômage – unemployment

7 – Learn French Strike Vocabulary in Context

And now, let’s see the French strike vocabulary being used within a story. This bilingual story was written by French immersion teacher & host Chantal, who lives in Picardie, near Paris.

Les grèves en France

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Les grèves recommencent en France ! Eh oui, chaque année nous devons affronter plusieurs grèves mais celle-ci va être longue !!

Strikes are starting again in France! Yes, each year we must face several strikes but this one will be long!

Pourquoi y a-t-il des grèves en ce moment ?

Why are there strikes now?

C’est parce que le gouvernement Macron veut changer certaines choses à la SCNF mais les syndicats et les employés ne sont pas d’accord.

It’s because the government wants to change some things at the SNCF but the unions and the employees don’t agree.

Qu’est-ce que le gouvernement veut changer ?

What does the government want to change?

Le premier point de la réforme veut modifier le statut des « cheminots ». Les cheminots sont les personnes qui travaillent pour la SNCF (les conducteurs, les contrôleurs etc…). Le statut des cheminots a été créé au temps des premières locomotives à charbon. Leur travail était très pénible à ce moment-là. C’est pour ça que les cheminots peuvent partir beaucoup plus tôt à la retraite (entre 50 et 52 ans pour les conducteurs et 57 pour les autres employés). Mais le gouvernement dit que ce n’est plus un travail difficile et qu’ils doivent travailler plus longtemps.

The first point of the reform wants to change the status of the “cheminot”. The “cheminots” are the persons who are working for the SNCF (the train conductor, the controllers etc…). The status of the train workers was created at the time of the first coal locomotives. Their work was very hard at that time. That’s why the “cheminots” can retire much earlier (between 50 and 52 years old for conductors and 57 for the other employees). But the government says that It’s no hard work anymore and that they must work longer.

Bien-sûr, les employés pensent que c’est toujours un travail difficile parce qu’ils doivent travailler parfois loin de chez eux et aussi parce qu’ils doivent travailler le week-end et la nuit pour certains.

The employees think of course that it’s still a painful work because they sometime must work far from home and because they also must work in the week-end and at night for some of them.

Le deuxième point de la réforme veut introduire des capitaux privés à la SCNF, car le fonctionnement de la SCNF coûte très cher à l’Etat.

The second point of the reform wants to introduce some private capital in the SNCF, because the running of the SNCF costs a lot.

Les employés sont contre car ce serait la fin de leur statut de fonctionnaires et il n’y aurait donc plus de garantie de Service Publique. L’idée de Service Publique est très importante en France. Les gens pensent que l’Etat est le meilleur garant des choses essentielles comme l’hôpital, les transports, l’école etc.

Employees are against that because it would be the end of their functionary’s status and there would be no security of a Public Service. The idea of a “Service Publique” is very important in France. People think that the government is the best guarantor for essential things like hospital, transport, school etc.

Les négociations sont très difficiles car personne ne veut céder.

Negotiation are very difficult because no one wants to surrender!

Mais il faut positiver!

But we have to be positive!

Donc entre-temps, les Français s’organisent. Ils prennent plus souvent le bus et font aussi plus de co-voiturage. Peut-être que cela encouragera aussi les entreprises à proposer plus de télétravail ! Ce serait bien !

So in between, The French are getting organized. More often they take the bus and they do more carpooling. Also, this will maybe encourage companies to offer more teleworking! It would be great!

deserted train station on a strike day in france
Paris Gare de Lyon – 12.02 PM. A deserted train station on this day of French transportation strike.

Transportation French Strike of 2018

The French transportation systems have announced a general strike for the spring and summer 2018. Here are the announced dates: however I strongly suggest your check with a daily newspaper to know more about the specifics of this strike, and the actual dates when it is going to be taken place.

Also, because of the strike, people tend to buy extra train tickets, which they return should they not need it. So for example, if a strike is announced for a Friday, people my buy train ticket for the Thursday morning and afternoon, just in case the strike extends to the Thursday afternoon (it often does…). If it doesn’t, the ticket will be returned and available. So what I’m trying to say is during strikes in France, it will be difficult to find train tickets in advance. However, some tickets are likely to free up on a short-term basis.

Driving in and out of large cities is going to be a mess. Try flying to a smaller airport closer to your final destination if you can.

On top of the Air France strikes planned for March 23rd and March 30th, there are major transportation strikes planned for:
April: 3, 4, 8, 9, 13, 14, 18, 19, 23, 24, 28 and 29
May: 3, 4, 8, 9, 13, 14, 18, 19, 23, 24, 28 and 29
June: 2, 3, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 18, 22, 23, 27 and 28

Main picture:
2nd picture: Wikipedia credits Jm2h0

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