• France's news in English
 

French rail strike: Unions extend action again

Published: 16 Jun 2014 13:45 GMT+02:00

LATEST:

  • Rail workers vote to continue their strike into Tuesday
  • Rail strike enters sixth day
  • First day of end-of-school exams hit by action
  • French PM 'deeply regrets' the 'irresponsible' strike
  • CLICK HERE for ino about trains in real time

France's longest rail strike in years entered its second week on Monday, causing major disruptions in a crucial test for President Francois Hollande's embattled Socialist government.

Train workers voted on Monday to continue the strike for another 24 hours, which stretches the walk-out to Tuesday, when lawmakers are set to debate the contentious rail reform that prompted the action.The strike has crippled France's rail network, disrupting the plans of millions of travellers as the country's crucial tourist season enters its peak.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls vowed the government would not back down despite the protest, calling the strike "useless and irresponsible".

"We don't see how it (the strike) makes sense when talks are continuing and the government's doors remain open," Valls told France Info radio.

The head of the SNCF rail operator, Guillaume Pepy, said the strike had already cost 80 million euros ($108 million) in lost revenues and reimbursements.

The SNCF said up to two-thirds of trains were cancelled on some high-speed TGV lines, while only one in two trains were running on other lines.

Less than half of scheduled trains were running on inter-city lines and only a quarter on Paris region lines.

International lines to Spain, Italy and Switzerland were also disrupted, but Eurostar links to London and Thalys lines to Brussels and Amsterdam were operating as normal.

In one weekend incident, 2,300 passengers on two  TGV trains were trapped for hours overnight from Saturday to Sunday after a power cut that officials said may have been the result of vandalism.

On Monday, the SNCF was forced to implement costly special measures - including bringing in thousands of extra workers - to ensure high school students were given priority places as they headed to sit their final exams.

The strike was prompted by a reform aimed at tackling the rail sector's soaring debt, which stands at more than 40 billion euros and is set to almost double by 2025 if nothing changes.

'Nothing to lose'

It looks to cut costs by uniting the SNCF train operator and RFF railway network and to eventually open up parts of the service to competition.

Some unions signed up to the reforms after obtaining promises from the government. But two unions still backing the strikes, the CGT and Sud-Rail, rejected the accord and say the plans will lead to job losses without reducing the debt.

The strike has been the biggest industrial action since Hollande's government took office two years ago.

Hollande is struggling to bring France's deficit under control, kickstart the country's stagnant economy and stem rising joblessness.

Don't miss stories about France, join us on Facebook and Twitter

The Local/AFP (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
More French pensioners head abroad to settle
Many French pensioners are heading to sunny Portugal. But not just for the weather. Photo: Shutterstock

More French pensioners head abroad to settle

While many expats dream of retiring in France, the French themselves are more and more likely to leave home and enjoy their twilight years abroad, partly due to the sunnier financial climes on offer. READ  

Paris reveals City of Light's best baguette
And the best baguette in the French capital is? Photo: Alex/Flickr

Paris reveals City of Light's best baguette

Paris has named the best baguette in town, with the winner in the city's 18th arrondissement set to bake a fresh batch for the president every morning for the next year. READ  

France examines new crackdown on prostitutes
Sex workers at a protest in Paris are against the new bill. Photo: AFP

France examines new crackdown on prostitutes

The divisive issue of how France could crackdown on the world's oldest profession was once again back on the table on Monday with French lawmakers set to debate whether to punish prostitutes or their clients. READ  

French job seeker given 26,000 years to pay €3k
Photo: AFP

French job seeker given 26,000 years to pay €3k

France's national employment agency Pôle Emploi has made a bizarre repayment request, asking a Frenchman to cough up 1 centime a month for the next 26,126 years. READ  

Body of British man washed up on Riviera
Photo: The village of Eze on the Côte d'Azur, where the body of a British man was washed up. Photo: Jim MacDougall/Flickr

Body of British man washed up on Riviera

Police in the south of France are investigating after it emerged on Monday that the body of a British man was washed up on the Côte d'Azur. READ  

French drunk gives kiss of life to 'dying' dinghy
The inflatable boat in this picture is not the one that underwent CPR in the story. Photo: Rootology/Wikimedia Commons

French drunk gives kiss of life to 'dying' dinghy

A good (but very drunk) Samaritan spent the night in prison after police found the Frenchman trying to breathe life into an inflatable boat in Brittany, western France. READ  

French local elections 2015
French local elections: Who won and who lost
Should Marine Le Pen be feeling disappointed after Sunday's election results? Photo: AFP

French local elections: Who won and who lost

Even though only half of the French people turned out to vote, Sunday's local elections could have a significant impact on the country's political landscape with the next presidential election almost within sight. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
The story of the doomed Germanwings flight
An emergency worker combs the mountainside after the Germanwings crash. Photo: AFP

The story of the doomed Germanwings flight

More details from the black box recordings from the crashed Germanwings jet have revealed how everything seemed ordinary as the flight took off but it ended with the horror of the pilot screaming "open the damn door". READ  

Bond legend in racism row with French mag
Roger Moore is in a row with a French magazine over an interview in which he talked about the possibility of a future black James Bond. Photo: AFP

Bond legend in racism row with French mag

James Bond legend Roger Moore insisted Saturday he had said nothing racist about fellow British actor Idris Elba -- tipped to play the superspy next -- in a French magazine interview. READ  

Local elections
French socialists take a beating in local elections
Nicolas Sarkozy hailed the victory of his centre-right alliance that routed the Socialists in the local elections. Photo: AFP

French socialists take a beating in local elections

France's ruling Socialists lost out to the right in the country's local elections on Sunday as Nicolas Sarkozy said the French public had massively rejected the Hollande government. Reports said the National Front failed to take control of a council. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
What's on in France: Ten things to do in April
National
Images released of the harrowing search at Alps plane crash site
IN PICTURES: Grieving relatives visit plane crash site in Alps
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
Co-pilot suspected of crashing plane
National
Paris: France mulls lifting ban on casinos
Damaged black box could hold key to Alps plane crash probe
Does low cost mean low safety? Questions after Germanwings crash
Gallery
IN PICTURES: A timeline of the Alps plane crash
National
So what might have caused the plane crash in the French Alps?
National
Videos emerge of Alps crash site wreckage
National
What we know so far about the plane crash in the French Alps
National
Where in La Belle France do British expats avoid?
National
IN PICTURES: 'Tide of the century' draws tens of thousands
National
Paris ends smog-fighting restrictions as the air finally clears
National
The main mistakes made by French property buyers
National
International French Language day: But what does the future hold?
National
IN PICTURES: What went on behind the clouds during Friday's eclipse
National
French food porn: What is the Gallic grub that goes viral the most?
Culture
France treated to rare Northern Lights show
Politics
Shady candidates undermine French far-right's election bid once again
Politics
French minister takes a swipe at overuse of Franglais in workplace
French gastronomy set for global charm offensive
French newspaper stuns readers with porn film pics on front page
Sport
The reasons why Zlatan Ibrahimovic might really think France is s**t
National
France could soon ban skinny models from catwalks
Health
Is France's much-envied health care system under threat?
National
There are jobs in France where you don't need to speak French
National
New plan to improve life in rural France drawn up
Education
Paris universities on the up in new rankings
Sport
We meet one of the most entertaining footballers in France
National
New plan to improve life in rural France drawn up
Features
Forget Paris. Is Bordeaux the best place to live in France?
Travel
Runaway plane mows down skier on the slopes of French Alps
Society
Friday 13th: A look at France's superstitions
Culture
France is ready to end its stubborn resistance to the English language
Features
'Hedgehog' and other words that French people simply can't say
Society
The worst 'nightmares' of living in France (written by a Frenchman)
Health
French hospitals crisis: 'It's like the UK under Margaret Thatcher'
Sponsored Article
Expert US tax preparation for Americans in France
VIDEO: Footage emerges of the moment two helicopters collided
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Helicopter crash kills 10, including French sports stars
Culture
What's on in France: Ten things to do in March
New French rail strike: RER B and regional trains to be worst hit
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se