FRANCE – Multiple strikes against government reforms

On April 2nd railway workers started a strike against government reforms of SNCF, the state-owned rail company. On the same day, airline workers started their strike. For railway workers, a total of 36 days of strike is planned for the next three months. On the first day of the strike, only a quarter of the trains were running. A quarter of Air France flights were cancelled Tuesday because of a strike for a higher wage. Students protested on campuses to allow selection in state universities. Garbage collectors too, were on strike to protest impairing working conditions.

The SNCF reform would include a worse labour contract for new railway workers. Railway workers now have rights like guaranteed employment for life, social security and being exempt from paying fees for train services, but they will be taken away by the reform.

France is trying to rush this reform because of a law by the European Union, that says to open the passenger rail to competition by 2020. Macron's government said that today's globalized and increasingly automated economy favors more flexible work-forces and that the special status puts the SNCF at a disadvantage compared to private competitors. This will most likely bring privatization and worse working conditions.

The Air France union for the flight crews and ground staff also plans to strike on Saturday, as well as on April 10 and 11.

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