French rail workers begin major strike action over Macron's reform efforts

French rail workers begin major strike action over Macron's reform efforts

French rail workers begin major strike action over Macron's reform efforts

Among train drivers the participation rate was put at 77 percent.

With their strike, railway workers are protesting Macron's plan to modernize and liberalize state-owned railway company SNCF.

French railway services were decimated on Tuesday, the first day of rolling strikes which are due to run for months in a serious test for President Emmanuel Macron's resolve to modernize the French economy.

In stations like the Gare du Nord and the Gare de Lyon there were persons who fell on the railways, fainted and other emergency situations caused by crowds.

TRT World's Craig Copetas explains from Paris.

"I must say that I hear the strikers, who speak fervently at times, as much as I hear those who do not accept this strike", Mr Philippe said. "But today is my first day in a new job so I have to admit I could have done without the strike".

Four labour unions have called on rail workers to strike for two days every week until the end of June.

The unions are somewhat weaker than in 1995 and divided in their response to Macron's social and economic reforms.

If the 40-year-old president triumphs it will set the tone for other reform plans, including revamping the education system and overhauling pensions.

On the strike, he told public radio station France Inter, "It's going to be huge".

Public support for the rail strike stands at just below half, according to an Ifop poll released on Sunday.

While that echoes earlier polls, such surveys also suggest voters are anxious that Macron's reform plans will hit their spending power more broadly.

"I want to be very clear. the strike action will no doubt be widely adhered to and his going to make the lives of a lot of people very hard", Pepy said in a radio interview.

Travelers are livid as simply one in 8 high-speed TGVs are arranged as well as simply one in 5 local trains, leaving travelers on jampacked trains. Thalys trains towards Belgium and the Netherlands will operate nearly normally, but there will be none at all to Spain, Italy or Switzerland.

Global services, including the Eurostar from London to Paris and Brussels to Lille, as well as trains to Germany, were also affected by the strike action.

Macron wants to transform heavily indebted SNCF into a profit-maker.

A meeting with train union representatives was scheduled for Thursday.

The government has sought to ease tensions with assurances that the arrival of foreign competition on French rail tracks, pencilled in for gradual rollout from 2020, can be delayed.

What remains unclear is whether Macron might offer further concessions to get the unions to back down before the strikes bite.

- Air France, garbage collectors and some energy workers were also striking in separate walkouts.

SCNF said the strike would affect 85 per cent of France's high-speed trains and 75 per cent of regional trains.

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