French strike affects Swiss rail connections

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Just one in four trains ran in the Paris region, while one in eight high-speed TGV trains were operating.

The last French leader to square off against the rail unions came off worst.

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

If Macron triumphs over the unions, it will set the tone for other key reform plans including revamping the education system and overhauling pensions. Macron has already faced down the unions to ease labour laws, making it simpler to hire and fire.

Speaking to parliament, prime minister Edouard Philippe said the way the SNCF operated could not continue.

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"It doesn't make us happy to go on strike".

Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne urged labour unions to negotiate, telling BFM TV in an interview today that "some of them are clearly trying to turn this into a political issue". "That depends on the government - we are ready to discuss it", he said.

In the southern city of Lyon, lawyer Perrine Fontana said the rolling strikes were going to cause "huge problems" for her because she frequently travels for work."I can understand the railroad workers to a certain degree, but their strike challenges the personal and professional lives of many people", the 27-year-old said.At the busy Gare du Lyon station in Paris, the platforms were so crammed that a woman fell onto the tracks and had to be helped out by fellow passengers.

Mr Macron is planning to phase out SCNF's generous contracts, which include automatic annual pay rises, protection against dismissal, early retirement and free tickets for workers' family members. An Ifop poll released over the weekend said 46 percent think the SNCF strike is justified, while 53 percent say it isn't. Under government plans, these historical benefits would not be applied to new rail staff.

In an IFOP poll published Sunday in the Journal du Dimanche newspaper, 53% of the almost 1,000 people surveyed said the strike was unjustified.

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Macron wants to transform SNCF, which adds €3 billion to its 47 billion euro debt pile each year, into a profit-maker.

Borne has sought to ease tensions with assurances that current SNCF employees that have to move to a competitor in the future would keep most of their advantages.

Energy sector unions have also called strikes to demand, among other things, an end to the liberalisation of the energy markets and a review of deregulation.

The CGT has called for public and private sector workers nationwide to strike on April 19, but in a sign of union division, private sector unions have so far declined.

Those actions get on the majority of reasonable of the ones at Air France the area employees are testing a 6 symphonious with cent pay higher drive as well as function been putting for the staying 4 days.

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