France: Travel chaos as rail workers hold renewed strike against Macron's reforms – Deutsche Welle


French commuters and holidaymakers were facing another day of disruptions to train services on Sunday as rail workers laid down their work in protest at President Emmanuel Macron’s planned overhaul of state-run railway company SNCF.

The company has said, however, that fewer trains were to be cancelled than during strikes on Tuesday and Wednesday.

One out of every five high-speed TGV services was still running on Sunday, while in the regional network, two-thirds of trains were to be cancelled. This compares with six out of seven TGV trains and four-fifths of regional trains affected on Wednesday.

Train travel from France to Germany has also been hit. A German railway spokesman said that just eight long-distance trains would travel between the two countries on Sunday.

Read more: The great train debate: what’s to be done with France’s SNCF?

Widespread resistance

Train staff last week launched three months of nationwide rolling strikes in protest at the planned overhaul, with unions calling walkouts for two days out of every five until the end of June.

The planned reforms would include ending job-for-life guarantees and early retirement for rail workers. SNCF staff say they fear the plans in the end aim at privatizing the company, which still holds a monopoly on train travel in France.

Nearly two-thirds of the French public say they support the government in facing down the strikes, according to an Ifop poll published on Sunday in the Journal du Dimanche newspaper.

Macron, who came to power last May on the back of promises to modernize France’s economy, is facing protests not only in the rail sector, but also among students opposed to a planned new selection system in higher education. Garbage collectors and other public workers have also held demonstrations.

Read more: Emmanuel Macron — French savior or tormentor?

tj/jlw (dpa, Reuters)

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