France set for massive railway strike against President Macron’s reforms
The French people as well tourists visiting the country were set to face inconvenience as the rolling railway strikes were set to start on Tuesday, April 3, to protest against President Emmanuel Macron's reforms.
The employees at France's state rail operator SNCF started walking out from 7 pm on Monday, April 2, beginning a series of disruptions on two out of every five days. This is going to cause major inconvenience to the country's 4.5 million train commuters.
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.
Train movements to other countries like the UK, Belgium, Spain, Switzerland and Italy will also be affected because of the strike - from partial to total. The railway strikes are set to continue till June 28.
Besides the railways, employees in energy and aviation sectors were also to go on strike on Tuesday, making it the biggest industrial turmoil since the election of Macron in May 2017.
Macron eyed the reforms to make France more competitive and his plans were being compared with former UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher's showdown with the coal unions of Britain in the 1980s.
The protesting unions in France believe Macron's ideas would neither resolve SNCF's debt issue nor cure the railway's problems but would hurt the railways. They called the president's plans "pure ideological dogmatism".
The striking unions fear that the government was moving towards the privatisation of SNCF, something the latter has disagreed with.
Air France, on the other hand, decided to operate only 75 per cent of flights on Tuesday as the staff members staged the fourth strike in a month seeking a six per cent pay hike. Though the aviation strike is not linked to Macron's reforms directly, it certainly made the impact of the unions' strike bigger.