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What the papers said 2 April 2018

rfi English, Apr 2

France faces shutdown, as Tuesday's rolling train drivers' strike against President Macron's reform agenda approaches; rubbish collectors are on strike, as well as employees in the energy sector, and Air France.

The commentators are all predicting a stressful season for travellers as the French state railway operator SNCF warned Sunday of major disruptions starting late Monday night as train drivers and other staff launch three months of planned industrial action against President Macron's reform plans.

Le Figaro says there will be minimum costs for the unions and maximum problems for commuters starting Tuesday morning with less than 13 percent of traffic on the railway network.

What that means according to Libération, is that there will be only one in eight high-speed TGV trains operating, around one in five regional trains running, coupled with major cancellations on suburban commuter trains.

Several papers relay a warning by SNCF chief Guillaume Pepy that some train lines might be closed due to the strike planned for two out of every five days until June 28.

Le Parisien advises citizens to expect the worse on Tuesday, when rubbish collectors, some staff in the electricity and energy sector, and employees of Air France, are also set join what it describes as the biggest wave of industrial unrest since Macron's election last May.

Les Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace reports that panic has taken hold of the SNCF, pointing to the creation of an allowance for train drivers and railway staff members who will not go on strike. The paper warns that the secretly announced allowance, which was not part of the unions' demands, is a blunder that is likely to enrage the strikers and get them fired up.

Le Midi Libre assesses the disruption likely to be caused by the strikes, forecasting a nerve-wracking effect for millions of travellers and huge losses for companies dependant on the railway network.

While Nice-Matin commends the determination of President Macron's government to revamp the old railway operator, Le Télégramme says it will be a grave error to underestimate the deep malaise over the risk of globalisation aggravating inequalities in France.

Sud-Ouest calls for an urgent mediation to resolve the standoff, warning that it will be hard to predict whether it will be the strikers or the government who will incur the wrath of public opinion, in a country which is tired and fed up with the French addiction to strikes.

La Charente Libre agrees that the social unrest which has marked Macron's presidency, carries the risk of crystallising the real discontent felt at the Universities, as well as in the energy sector, which in its opinion indicate that the Macron government may not be as serene and determined as they want people to believe.

 

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