France Suffers Second Day of Mass Rail Strikes

Image: TGV Est in the Paris Est train station

(From AFP)

Millions of French travellers suffered a second day of major disruption Wednesday as rail workers pressed on with rolling strikes that pose one of the toughest challenges yet to President Emmanuel Macron.

Only one in seven high-speed trains and one in five regional trains were running in stoppages set to continue two days out of every five until June 28, unless Macron backs down on his bid to overhaul heavily-indebted state rail operator SNCF.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has warned of “difficult days ahead” in a battle of wills between Macron and the unions that has earned comparisons with late British premier Margaret Thatcher’s standoff with coalminers in the 1980s.

Four unions were set to meet with transport ministry officials Wednesday afternoon to discuss their bones of contention with the government, which include plans to turn the SNCF into a publicly owned company.

Unions fear this could eventually lead to the mammoth rail operator being privatised, something repeatedly denied by the government.

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