France faces new strike that will begin today after railway employees protest against the government reform in the sector. The trade union announced a two-day strike every five days by the end of June.
The state-owned railway company SNCF advises passengers not to travel by train from tonight to Thursday morning as the strike will create congestion for a total of 4.5 million passengers using daily rail transport. Tomorrow, the striking railway will be joined by dissatisfied employees from the waste collection and on Sunday by the energy sector.
Also today, Air France’s staff will strike at the call of 11 syndicates asking for a widespread wage increase of 6%. This demand has no direct link with government reforms, but it also aggravates social tension.
The trade unions from the state railways protest against the abolition of the special railway status for the newcomers, the conditions for opening up to the competition and the transformation of the company into a limited liability company, which they see paved the way for future privatization – something the government denies.
According to the State Railways, the movement of trains tonight will hardly be disturbed. Tomorrow, however, only 12% of high-speed trains (TGV) and 6% of medium-distance trains will travel. Instead, a bus service will be provided covering 30% of the journeys provided on interurban routes.
“In this battle, it is essential to win the public”, the government adviser said at the announcement of reforms. The opponents of the strike are still a majority – 53% believe it is unjustifiable. However, they have fallen by five points in two weeks before the start of the strike.
On Sunday, government officials expressed a desire for “discussion”. Transport Minister was angry at Le Parisien that the French would be subjected to a totally unjustified torture for three months, although “the government wants a dialogue”.