Jun 02, 2016

    Rail workers go on strike in France ahead of Euro 2016


    TRANSPORT chaos hit France again yesterday, just nine days ahead of Euro 2016, as railway workers went on strike in the latest salvo of a battle between the government and unions.

    Between a third and half of France's trains were expected to grind to a halt, as workers from railway operator SNCF launched their eighth strike in three months, saying it will continue until demands for better pay and conditions are met.

    The action has piled further pressure on the already deeply unpopular Socialist government, which has been besieged by months of protests and work stoppages over a controversial labour reform bill.

    Metro workers in the capital plan to walk off the job from today and Air France pilots have threatened a lengthy strike in the coming weeks, when the Euro 2016 football tournament is in full swing.

    Since March, tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in demonstrations that have frequently turned violent, while petrol pumps ran dry last week due to blockades of refineries and depots by CGT union activists.

    Despite the disruption caused, 46 per cent of French people still support the unions' calls, a poll in the Journal du Dimanche showed on Sunday.

    But the protests have cast a shadow over the European football championship, which begins on June 10 and is expected to attract millions of foreign visitors this month.

    Yesterday's strikes were expected to see some 60 per cent of France's high-speed TGV services cut, along with 30 to 40 per cent of regional trains, SNCF said.

    International services to Britain and Germany were not due to be affected, but the majority of trains to Spain and Italy were likely to be cancelled.