French transport hit but Euro 2016 OK

2016-06-02 16:14

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Paris - France suffered a third day of rail strikes on Thursday, but fears of transport chaos during the Euro 2016 football tournament eased as airport workers cancelled a walkout and a Paris subway strike had little impact.

Half of all trains nationally were cancelled barely a week before Euro 2016 kicks off on June 10, but unions' hopes of bringing Paris to a halt with a Metro strike appeared to have failed with commuters only suffering minor disruption.

Air traffic controllers called off a walkout that had been expected to ground flights over the weekend after reaching a deal on work conditions with the government.

A week after France was badly disrupted by blockades of fuel depots and refineries, the government's strategy of passing individual agreements for certain sectors appeared to be paying off.

Labour Minister Myriam El Khomri said: "What the government is doing... is sorting out each of the situations one by one."

Although each of the strikes has its own motivations, the unions are united in opposition to the Socialist government's new labour reforms that have sparked three months of often violent protests.

But Khomri insisted: "We will not withdraw the bill."

More demonstrations against the reforms - which the government says are designed to make France more business-friendly - took place in major cities on Thursday and workers were back on strike at 16 of the country's 19 nuclear power stations.

The country was dotted with union blockades.

Activists briefly prevented trains from leaving from the Gare de Lyon, one of Paris' main rail stations, when they occupied the signal box.

Cause headaches

They were removed, but trains to southern France still suffered long delays as a result.

Other protests were held outside a Renault factory in Rouen and a major naval shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, while police clashed with protesters blocking a ring road in the southwest city of Toulouse.

The unions still have plenty of opportunities to cause headaches for the government during the football championships, which also pose a major security challenge in the wake of last year's jihadist attacks in Paris.

One union representing Air France pilots has already threatened a walkout starting on June 11 that could last up to four days.

The powerful CGT union has previously demanded that the reforms be dropped entirely but appeared to be open to the possibility of a compromise.

"If the government says tomorrow 'let's talk,' the strikes will stop," CGT head Philippe Martinez said on Wednesday.

Railway operator SNCF said 15% of its staff had walked out as part of the rolling strike, with more than two-thirds of inter-city trains and nearly half of high-speed TGV services again cancelled on Thursday.

Trains to Spain and Italy were heavily affected, but there was little impact on Eurostar trains to Britain and other international services.

Severe flooding around Paris and in the Loire Valley after days of torrential rain added to the misery.

'Weighing on economy'

The government has vowed not to capitulate to the unions, and Prime Minister Manuel Valls has decried the "waste" caused by the strikes.

"This conflict is weighing on our economy at a time when the actions of the government are allowing a rebound, growth and a fall in unemployment," he told parliament on Wednesday.

The French government says its new labour law is aimed at reducing stubbornly high unemployment and making the struggling economy more business-friendly.

But unions are furious the government rammed the reforms through the lower house of parliament without a vote, and have called for another national day of strikes in two weeks when the bill goes before the Senate.

They say the law favours bosses by letting them set their own working conditions for new employees, rather than being bound to industry-wide agreements, allowing companies to cut jobs during hard times and go beyond the 35-hour work week.

Despite the often violent demonstrations, President Francois Hollande has refused to scrap the legislation and has criticised the unions for tarnishing France's image.

A new poll showed Hollande only has a 14%approval rating, but he is still considering standing for re-election next May.

The YouGov poll showed that the government's ratings had slumped to just 10 percent.

Read more on:    france  |  euro 2016

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.