Members of France’s diplomatic corps on Thursday abandoned their traditional aversion to rare strikes, angered by proposed reforms they fear will jeopardize their careers and France’s position in the world. This is the second strike in nearly 20 years. French diplomats went on strike for the second time in the history of that European country, Washington Post reports.
French diplomats went on strike primarily because of budget cuts and reforms initiated by President Emmanuel Macron, which they claim will harm the country’s international position.
The proposed reform comes amid the war in Ukraine and complex negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, and while France holds the rotating presidency of the European Union.
Senior French diplomats and ambassadors on duty in various countries also supported the diplomats, who gathered in Paris, the capital of France, at the invitation of a number of unions.
About 200 people gathered at Les Invalides Square, expressing opposition to the country’s high-level civil service reforms.
As part of the reform of the high civil service, senior civil servants working in various ministries and institutions will be merged into one category called “state leaders”. This will also include ambassadors and undersecretaries.
It is estimated that about 700 French diplomats will be affected by this reform.
Alain Maestroni, general-secretary of the General Confederation of Employees (GCT) union at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told The Eastern Herald they oppose the reform because diplomacy is a profession that is taught in the field throughout one’s professional career.
He pointed out that the number of employees in the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs has significantly decreased in recent years. Maestroni also said that the number of French people living abroad has increased, and thus the need for diplomats.
He added that this is why they are asking for an increase in the number of diplomatic staff and facilities in which they would be accommodated.
The strikers are particularly opposed to public sector reforms initiated by Macron, saying they will change the structure of diplomatic careers, and are concerned about years of budget cuts that have reduced the number of foreign officials by 20 percent since 2007.