French rail strikes have cost 100 million euros

Train drivers and other staff at the state-owned SNCF have vowed to continue walking off the job two days out of every five until at least June 28 unless the government backs down on its reforms.

French rail strikes have cost 100 million euros

World Bulletin / News Desk

France's rail operator said Monday that the rolling strikes against plans to overhaul the debt-laden company had already cost it around 100 million euros ($123 million) as the standoff between unions and the government drags on.

The stoppages so far are costing around 20 million euros per strike day and the disruption often spills into non-strike days, SNCF chief Guillaume Pepy told BFM television on Monday, the fourth day of the walkout.

"From what I can see, France has not been paralysed," Pepy said, "but clients are being heavily penalised."

Both sides are claiming broad public support. An Ifop poll published Sunday showed 62 percent in favour of the government's reforms, compared with a slim majority of 51 percent in the same survey a week earlier.

Yet unions point to the nearly 530,000 euros in donations raised as of Monday morning via a web-based fund for compensating strikers' lost wages.

"Nobody wants a long, difficult conflict but for now, we're up against a wall," Philippe Martinez of the CGT union, the largest at the SNCF, told Europe 1 radio.

"The government has forced us to take this type of action."

President Emmanuel Macron, who has barely spoken publicly on the standoff, is set to give an hour-long televised interview Thursday, nearly a year after sweeping away France's traditional parties with his election victory.

The 40-year-old centrist, who is pushing reforms to swathes of the French economy, will also appear for a two-hour primetime interview on Sunday night, facing journalists from BFM and the hard-hitting investigative news site Mediapart.

Last Mod: 09 Nisan 2018, 14:16
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