French railway workers strike set to cause major disruption Monday

French railways operator SNCF has warned that the latest in a series of rolling two-day strikes will cause severe disruption to services on Monday, as unions heighten protest action against planned government reforms to prepare for the introduction of private competition on the railways and an end to job contract protections. 

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French train traffic will see some "major disruptions" on Monday, France’s national railway operator warned Sunday, as the company’s workers round up the latest rolling strike action to protest government reforms, reports FRANCE 24.

“Tomorrow [Monday] will be a very difficult day,” national railway operator SNCF said in a statement, adding that an average of only one in three of the country’s fast-speed (TGV) and regional (TER and Transiliens) trains are expected to run.

Traffic on the country’s “classic” city-to-city train lines, known as Intercités, is expected to be hit even harder, with an average of only one in five trains running.

In the Ile-de-France region, traffic on the commuter train lines (RER) will also be disrupted, with as few as one in three trains running at times.

The SNCF also warned that it had received threats of “blockages” which it said could translate into protesting workers occupying stations, rail lines and other SNCF related buildings.

The railway workers, or “cheminots” as they are known in France, are protesting a government reform which includes the gradual phase-out of the SNCF’s passenger rail monopoly, starting with competition on high-speed lines in 2020, and an end to hiring SNCF staff on the more protective job-for-life contracts than in other sectors.

A third strut of the reform will change the SNCF’s corporate structure to a joint-stock company. While the government says it will remain 100 percent state-owned, unions fear that it will open the door to privatisation, as happened after similar changes at France Telecom, now called Orange.

Read more of this report from FRANCE 24.


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