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Unions can’t agree on continuing rail strike

The Connexion, Jun 27

France’s biggest rail union CGT-Cheminots announced on Wednesday that they will continue striking until the month of September. This comes a day after two other rail unions, UNSA and CFDT Cheminots, broke ranks with the CGT by deciding not to extend the strike beyond the original end date of June 28.

The staff of the national rail operator SNCF have been striking every two days out of five since early April against the reforms, which deny job-for-life and early pension guarantees for new hires.

President Emmanuel Macron says the changes are needed to reduce costs and improve flexibility at the heavily indebted operator ahead of the opening of EU passenger rail traffic to competition.

Meanwhile, CGT Cheminots and the SUD-Rail union are set to continue with the work stoppages, starting with strikes on July 6 and 7, which coincides with the end of the public school term and mass vacation travel.

Opinion polls have shown most voters back the proposed changes, which would see the state take on 35 billion euros of the operator's 47 billion euros of legacy debt.

Meanwhile, rail traffic was only moderately disrupted on Wednesday, with four out of five TGVs, nine out of ten international trains in circulation.

Strike participation rates have steadily tapered off, reaching their lowest level on June 18 at just 10.8 percent. The rate of participation by mid-morning on Wednesday was just 8.4 per cent.

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