• France's news in English
 

French rail workers again extend their strike

Ben McPartland · 18 Jun 2014, 14:01

Published: 18 Jun 2014 14:01 GMT+02:00

Commuters in France faced yet more disruption on the rails on Wednesday as one of the longest running train strikes in recent years entered its second week.

However despite the ongoing industrial action, rail operator SNCF forecast an improvement in the number of trains running on Wednesday compared to previous days when commuters faced major travel chaos.

French rail union, CGT Cheminot, announced on Wednesday its workers had voted to continue the strike by another 24 hours. 

SNCF said on average there would be seven out of ten trains running on the main lines. In and around Paris the situation in the RER service should also improve on Wednesday with one train running every seven minutes on the RER B that serves the two airports.

On the RER C and E one out of two trains were running and on the RER D there will be a train every ten minutes. 

CLICK HERE for more information on the trains that are running. Travellers can also call 0 805 200 440 to find out information.

The reform that has provoked the strike by the CGT and Sud-Rail unions will continue to be discussed by MPs in the National Assembly on Wednesday

French PM Manuel Valls has insisted the government would not back down to the demands of strikers and vowed that the reform would pass.

Transport Secretary Frédéric Cuvillier called on MPs to back the reform in order to “save and assure financially the future of the public rail service.”

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

It looks to cut costs by bringing together 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 the CGT and Sud-Rail unions rejected the accord saying the plans will lead to job losses without reducing the debt.

'The government should protect a public service'

Speaking on Wednesday the CGT union chief Thierry Lepaon again blasted the reform saying it presented major risks for the French rail service.

“The heart of the matter is that we are horrified. It is the preparation for privatisation of rail transport in our country. The government wants to allow competitors to operate train on the SNCF network, who will compete with today's rail transport," he told France Inter radio.

France's move towards the deregulation of its rail system is at the behest of the EU, but Lepaon says the government should be reinforcing the public service and oppose the opening up to competition.

"We ask the government to take responsibility so the public service can continue to exist," Lepaon said.

On Tuesday tensions appeared to rise as the strikers protests became more militant.

There were brief clashes with police outside the National Assembly and strikers also briefly blocked the tracks in Paris's busy Montparnasse station.

In the afternoon, up to 300 strikers forced their way into the office of public television France 3 in the eastern city of Lyon, demanding a live debate with Transport Minister Frederic Cuvillier, but later left without getting their request met.

In the southern port city of Marseille, meanwhile, their peers took direct action by addressing passengers in the railway station's main hall.

"There is a real rising anger at the way we have been singled out for blame" by the government, said Philippe Goalard, a rail worker since 1995.

"Perhaps we haven't communicated enough... and in this second week of the strike we need to explain more." 

However the public mood appearsto be against the strike.

The walkout, in a country where strikes occur regularly, drew outrage with a poll published in Le Parisien newspaper Tuesday showing that 76 percent of the French opposed the protest, which has so far cost at least €80 million ($108 million).

The poll also showed that only one in three French understood the reasons behind the strike.

French rail strike: What is all the fuss about?

For more news from France, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
French drug dealer held for giving free samples
On the handwritten leaflet the dealer added a taped half gram of cannabis resin. Photo: Police Nationale

French drug dealer held for giving free samples

16 hours ago

A man in central France has been hauled in by the police after he reportedly gave out flyers advertising his product - together with a free sample of cannabis resin.

Top French MP quits 'leftist' Green party
French MP and former member of Ecological-Green Party (EELV) Francois de Rugy gives a press conference. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

Top French MP quits 'leftist' Green party

17 hours ago

One of the leaders of the ecologist parliamentary group, François de Rugy, has resigned from France’s Green Party, claiming that the party has moved too far to the left.

Minister: 35-hour week not working in France
French Economy Minister Emmanual Macron. Photo: AFP

Minister: 35-hour week not working in France

19 hours ago

France's Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron took aim at France's 35-hour working week on Thursday, saying the Socialists were wrong to think life would improve if people worked fewer hours.

French traffic headaches forecast as holidays end
Being stuck in a car or a train will not be pleasant this weekend. Photo: AFP

French traffic headaches forecast as holidays end

17 hours ago

School's back next week - and the weekend traffic is forecast to be a nightmare as everyone returns home from their holidays. Here's what you need to know.

Ligue 1
Kurzawa out of clash with former club Monaco
Paris Saint-Germain newly recruited defender Layvin Kurzawa. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Kurzawa out of clash with former club Monaco

18 hours ago

New Paris Saint-Germain signing Layvin Kurzawa will miss an immediate return to former employers Monaco on Sunday due to an ankle injury.

French fraudster targets women called Josette
Several Josettes in France have been targeted by the fraudster. Photo: Duru/Flickr

French fraudster targets women called Josette

20 hours ago

French women named Josette are advised to be on their guard after three women with that name were targeted by a fraudster in the northern city of Rouen. Several other Josettes are also thought to have been targeted.

Scarlett Johansson loses war on French book
The decision to republish comes one year after Delacourt was ordered to pay the star €2,500 ($3400) for his depiction of her in the novel. Photo: AFP

Scarlett Johansson loses war on French book

22 hours ago

A French novel based on American actress Scarlett Johansson which the star sought to ban has now been translated into English and will be published in the UK within weeks, British media has reported.

UN to meet in Paris over minorities hit by Isis

UN to meet in Paris over minorities hit by Isis

23 hours ago

A UN conference on minorities persecuted by the Islamic State group will be held on September 8th in Paris, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Thursday.

French journos 'try to blackmail' Morocco king
King Mohammed VI. Photo: AFP

French journos 'try to blackmail' Morocco king

23 hours ago

Two French investigative journalists were arrested on Thursday in Paris on suspicion of trying to blackmail the king of Morocco, legal sources in both countries said.

Police evacuate France's oldest shanty town
Roma community members walk with their belongings after the forced evacuation of their camp on Thursday. Photo: AFP

Police evacuate France's oldest shanty town

1 day ago

A 300-strong Roma population was evicted from a shanty town in the northern suburbs of Paris on Thursday, despite a strong call for the camp to remain.

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS

IN PICS: Police evict 300 people from France's oldest shanty town
11-year-old boy miraculously survives six-storey fall in Paris
Features
Take a look at some of the wackiest bars you can find in Paris
National
Feminist stunt sees French road signs changed for the day
National
Two men jailed after 'Charlie Hebdo 2' scare
National
French minister calls for tougher train security after foiled attack
National
President Hollande condemns arson attack on mosque
TIMELINE: What exactly happened on the Paris-bound "terror train"?
Travel
Could coaches overtake trains when it comes to travelling in France?
Train gunman: Islamic extremist or homeless misfit?
Meet the five heroes who foiled the French train attack
National
France set for 'tourism record' of 85 million visitors in 2015
National
Paris students are helping police to warn Asian visitors about crime
Naked couple found dead beside French fortress
Europe's biggest science museum burns in Paris
Robber found half-naked and asleep in French beauty salon
National
Here are eight tips for blending in with the French while at the beach
Humans of Paris: We meet the man changing our perception of Parisians
National
France reveals new plans for Sunday and late-night shopping
Read about this revolutionary kidney op in a Toulouse hospital
National
Panic after four dogs 'poisoned' after walks in Paris park
France hit by huge summer spike in abandoned pets
National
France boils in second hottest summer ever
Technology
Meet Max - the first person in France to receive a 3D-printed hand
Politics
French minister admits to 'Obama engagement' tweeting mishap
Features
From giant bubbles to treehouses - here are the craziest hotels in France
National
How would you like to spend a night in the Palace of Versailles?
French manager paid to do nothing for 12 years
Features
We talk to Calais residents about their migrant crisis
National
Cow spared after fleeing from abattoir in France
FIVE reasons why everyone should visit Calais... yes Calais
Travel
France for adrenaline junkies: Ten crazy things to do
VIDEO: Slingshot elastic breaks on ride at French theme park
This plant might spell the end of the Asian hornet invasion
Who says the French don't like speaking English
National
It may be trickier to find a baguette in Paris this August
Killers of French student were 'inspired by Breaking Bad'
Ten must-see French gems you probably never thought of visiting
Is it time for France to force Britain to move border back across Channel?
Is romance in France just a "heterosexual concept"?
Can YOU pronounce these ten French town names?
Dog buried alive sparks French social media fury
New plan to get shy French chatting on trains
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