The chairman of the SNCF rail service stated after a third wave of stoppages slashed services that the France’s state railways have lost around 100 million euros ($123 million)
The series of strikes began on April 3 and the labour unions showed no sign of faltering in their test of President Emmanuel Macron’s resolve to shake up the domestic rail monopoly and deliver a raft of reforms which as per him are vital to economic modernisation.
The stoppage which cut the number of high-speed TGV trains on Monday to one in five was denounced by Guillaume Pepy, the chief of SNCF.
In the Paris region the service fell to a third of a normal. Two million commuters rely on trains each day while three in four international trains were operating.
Pepy stated that the right to strike exists but also the right to transport.
The shakeup was defended by him that Macron’s government finds vital that SNCF survives once the domestic rail network comes to compete with the EU-wide accord.
Rail freight were already liberlised, SNCF’s frieight business came to a third as it lacked reforms to prepare for it and the same had happened with rail liberalization.
The strike is backed by the unions but there is a deep difference between the Communist-rooted CGT. It objects in principle to the government reforms and the moderate CFDT as it opposes the way the government is handling it.
CGT head Philippe Martinez stated nothing but technically obliged Macron to end the SNCF monopoly.
CFDT head Laurent Berger demanded that the government do more to put a new collective agreement in place for the entire rail sector.Berger’s differences with the CGT are regarded as Macron’s best hope for a way out.
SNCF-specific contracts offer job-for-life status and perks such as automatic annual pay rises while the government wants to ditch a system.
Berger further mentioned that it was inconceivable to do so without a new collective agreement for the sector.Polls reveal that majority support for the reform but demand also for the government to accept some of the unions’ demands.