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France gears up for another round of rail strikes

© Matthieu Alexandre / AFP | An employee of French railway operator SNCF guides commuters at the Saint Lazare railway station early on March 9, 2016 in Paris.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2016-03-30

Regional train services in France will be running a half service on Thursday as workers strike against planned changes to France’s employment laws.

France’s national rail operator SNCF announced Wednesday that the strike would affect TER and Transilien regional trains, and that non-TGV intercity services would be running a 40 percent service.

High-speed TGV services will also be affected, with a half service in northern France, and a 75 percent service in all other French regions.

International Eurostar, Thalys and Aleo trains are not expected to be affected by the strikes.

Unveiled in mid-February, the proposed employment law named after Economy Minister Myriam El Khomri, is designed to give employers more flexibility in hiring and firing. Critics say it unduly threatens job security.

Thursday’s industrial action is not expected to have the same widespread impact as rail strikes that took place on March 9, after two major unions – UNSA and the CFDT - said their members will continue to work.

Both unions said they believed action focused against the El Kohmry Law would eclipse specific concerns about working conditions on French railways.

The March 9 strikes were a rare show of unity for France’s powerful but disparate unions, who want extra staff to be recruited, as well as pay rises and guarantees about their working conditions.

They also say that management of the state rail system is “catastrophic” and that so far in 2016, 1,400 trains have been cancelled because there was insufficient staff to run them.

Since 2003, the SNCF has reduced its workforce by 25,000 by not replacing staff as they retire. In 2015, the SNCF had just under 150,000 employees.

Click here for information from SNCF about what services are affected, including information about specific trains (in English).

Date created : 2016-03-30

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