Two-day strike by French workers to disrupt train service

Above French President Emmanuel Macron Image Credit Reuters

Among train drivers the participation rate was put at 77 percent.

Minister of Transport, Elisabeth Borne, asserted the government does not plan to backup from its reform project, and once more criticized the railroad workers for going on strike. At Gare du Nord, Paris's busiest station, platforms were so crowded that some commuters tumbled onto tracks; other stations were plunged into darkness, the lights and ticket machines switched off.

TRT World's Craig Copetas explains from Paris.

"This reform is necessary for travelers, necessary for the SNCF, necessary for the railway workers", she told CNN's affiliate BFM TV on Tuesday. "But today is my first day in a new job so I have to admit I could have done without the strike". The railway strikes are set to continue till June 28.

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

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.

Just over half (51%) of those surveyed in Sunday's IFOP poll said they support the reforms.

While that echoes earlier polls, such surveys also suggest voters are anxious that Macron's reform plans will hit their spending power more broadly.

As the industrial action began, almost one in two SNCF staff stayed off work.

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Travelers are livid as simply one in 8 high-speed TGVs are arranged as well as simply one in 5 local trains, leaving travelers on jampacked trains.

No trains were set to run between France, Switzerland, Italy and Spain.

The walkout - which started on Monday evening and is to last through Wednesday morning - is also reducing train traffic on the Eurostar to Britain and trains to Germany.

Macron wants to transform heavily indebted SNCF into a profit-maker.

The unions say the debt was caused by excessive investment in TGV trains at the expense of everyday connections and accuse Macron of paving the way for privatisation. This time around, however, all main trade unions in France have backed the railway strike.

- About 48 percent of rail workers and other SNCF staff were expected to participate in Tuesday's strike, according to SNCF management.

Staff at state railway SNCF are leading the strike, but the energy and waste collection sectors are also affected.

Passengers are sharing cars or canceling trips after national railway SNCF said the strike will halt 85 percent of France's high-speed trains and 75 percent of regional trains.

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