Drivers and ticket inspectors on Paris commuter trains launched a one-day strike on Tuesday to pressure management over bonuses for the Olympics this July and August, leading to criticism of union tactics.

Drivers walked off the job on most RER and other commuter lines, which are used daily by millions of workers living in the capital's suburbs, causing major delays and huge traffic jams.

"I left two hours earlier than normal to make sure I was on time," restaurant worker Anne-Sophie Collier told AFP and she arrived in central Paris on Tuesday morning after an uncomfortable journey on a packed train.

Unions representing workers across the public sector have launched strikes or are threatening to in order to demand extra pay or support for having to work over the July 26-August 11 Games, which fall during the traditional summer holiday in France.

Police, air traffic controllers, Paris rubbish collectors, central government employees, metro drivers and firefighters have all made pay demands, with the government under pressure to prevent disruption spoiling the event.

Workers at the national mint, which is producing the medals, have also been on strike, but management insists that production remains on track.

"It's intolerable that a few privileged people are able to take France hostage very, very regularly," senior Republicans senator Bruno Retailleau told Sud Radio, echoing criticism from many right-wing and far-right lawmakers over Tuesday's walk-out.

"The right to strike is constitutional, but so is the right to have minimum public services," he added.

Tuesday's strike came one day ahead of a roundtable between train drivers on the SNCF network and management to discuss Olympics bonuses, with the stoppages seen as a pressure tactic.

Several unions representing workers at Paris airports also announced a strike on Tuesday but the stoppages appeared to have had little impact.

"All flights will be able to operate," a spokesman for the airport operating company told AFP.