Striking French rail workers yesterday disrupted train services for the seventh day this month, spurning government calls to end the industrial action over reforms at the state-owned SNCF railway company.
The rolling strikes, due to stretch on until the end of June, entered a new, more testing phase for unions a day after parliament’s lower house approved the railway reform bill they are fighting.
“Unions are free to do as they see fit ... but a majority of French people want this reform,” French Minister of Labor Muriel Penicaud told public television channel France 2. “There comes a time when you need to bring an end to the strikes.”
All four major unions are contesting a reform that is the biggest since nationalization of the railways in 1937, and seen as a test of French President Emmanuel Macron’s determination to pursue a far broader raft of economic and social reforms.
SNCF management said about one in three high-speed TGV trains were running yesterday and that services were cut to two in five trains on regional connections, while international services were down to about 75 percent of normal.
That is a marginally lower disruption rate than seen at the outset of the strike action on April 3, but not to a degree that suggested Tuesday’s resounding pro-reform vote in the National Assembly had broken the will of the unions.
The Communist-rooted CGT union sought to raise the pressure on Macron with a call for stoppages too at the Paris subway transport company, RATP.
A CGT leader in the power sector said in an interview in Le Parisien that his union could also tamper with power supplies and cause more train delays out of solidarity with rail workers.
Another vote on the bill that enshrines the reform is scheduled in the Senate next month.
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