After months of strikes, France’s Macron looks to break rail unions

June 13, 2018 10:44 am

PARIS (Reuters) – In early April, thousands of French rail workers filled a square outside one of Paris’s largest stations at the start of a strike against President Emmanuel Macron’s reforms.

Letting off smoke flares and blowing whistles, they chanted slogans against the president’s plans to shake up the heavily subsidised and indebted state-run SNCF rail company.

More than two months later, on day 27 of a rolling strike meant to cripple rail traffic on 36 days over three months, not a single striker could be seen when Reuters went to the same square in front of the Gare de l’Est.

The strike is still going on: about half of all national and regional rail services were again halted for two days last week. Gare de l’Est was so empty that birdsong could be heard in the main concourse.

But Macron, who said from the beginning that he would not back down, has all but won the war over the SNCF, delivering a powerful blow in his campaign to modernise France’s labour force and end a long economic malaise.

 

Graphic – French rail workers on strike: tmsnrt.rs/2JHg3S9

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