Published: Wed, April 11, 2018
Entertaiment | By Lawrence Myers

French commuters rail against 'intolerable' train strikes

French commuters rail against 'intolerable' train strikes

Paris - French rail workers launched their latest two-day strike on Sunday over plans to overhaul the heavily indebted train operator SNCF, the biggest test yet to President Emmanuel Macron's drive to reform the country's economy.

State railway company SNCF said that just under 25% of staff were out on strike, down from 34% on the first strike day last week.

The government has promised that the SNCF will not be privatized and that existing staff will retain their status, which guarantees them a job for life and earlier retirement than most workers.

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About a quarter of global trains were affected.

"We're going to have a marathon if the government forces it", Laurent Brun of the CGT's rail branch said Friday after two days of talks with government officials, while warning that the strike could extend beyond its scheduled end on June 28.

Commuters in France have been hit by fresh train strikes as unions and management insist they will not back down in a long-running dispute.

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"I have work days that I've committed to that I can't honor", Coldefy added on Sunday morning at Montparnasse train station in Paris, where groups of tourists were scrambling to re-book trains after realizing theirs had been canceled.

The 40-year-old came to power last May on a promise to shake up Europe's second-biggest economy, in a bid to modernise some of France's creaking institutions and spur jobs growth, and Macron has so far liberalised labour regulations for instance.

"I understand the determination of certain unions, but they need to understand mine as well", Philippe said.

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Locking horns with the rail sector has backfired on previous French governments - paralyzing train strikes in 1995 forced then-Prime Minister Alain Juppe to pull planned reforms. The CFDT is also joining stoppages called for Sunday and Monday. Garbage collectors and other public workers have also held demonstrations.

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