French rail workers kicked off three months of rolling strikes on April 3, part of a wave of industrial action that will test President Emmanuel Macron's resolve to reshape France with sweeping reforms.rench rail workers kicked off three months of rolling strikes on April 3, part of a wave of industrial action that will test President Emmanuel Macron's resolve to reshape France with sweeping reforms.
The unions accuse President Macron, a centrist ex-investment banker, of seeking to "destroy the public railways through pure ideological dogmatism", and are concerned that plans to turn the SNCF into a publicly listed company, even with the state owning 100 percent of shares, could eventually lead to the rail operator being privatized - something the government denies.
The strikes are the latest in a series of disruptions that started last month and also involve energy and garbage collection companies, as well as students protesting changes at state-backed universities. Then-Prime Minister Alain Juppe had proposed restructuring SNCF and raising the retirement age for train drivers.
The main protests against the reforms begin on Tuesday, which the media has termed "black Tuesday" with only one out of eight high-speed TGV train and one out of five regional trains likely to run.
In stations like the Gare du Nord and the Gare de Lyon there were persons who fell on the railways, fainted and other emergency situations caused by crowds.
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"This reform is necessary for travelers, necessary for the SNCF, necessary for the railway workers", she told CNN's affiliate BFM TV on Tuesday. "These fears are not justified and they are being fueled", said Borne.
He was forced to concede after the country's unions sent thousands to the streets in demonstrations and, in the minds of many, turned the protest movement into a battle for the soul of the country, winning widespread public support.
Workers now enjoy generous contract and benefits, but the French government is looking to reform contracts for new workers. "That depends on the government - we are ready to discuss it", he said. The calendar of railway strikes is coordinated to align with negotiations and parliamentary debate about the reforms.
"We need to rid this country of its strike culture", Gabriel Attal, spokesman for Macron's Republic On The Move (LREM) party, said on April 2. An Ifop poll on Sunday showed that just over half of French people view the strikes as unjustified.
"This little melody being sung of "privileged railway workers" is intolerable", said Philippe Martinez, head of the CGT union.