World French rail strikes have cost 100 million euros, operator says

13:28  10 april  2018
13:28  10 april  2018 Source:   eNCA

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The head of French railway operator SNCF said Monday that rolling strikes that began last week have cost the company around 100 million euros (3 million ) as staff carried out further stoppages. ……

The head of French railway operator SNCF said Monday that rolling strikes that began last week have cost the company around 100 million euros (3 Rail workers began their strikes on two out of every five working days last week to protest the government’s planned overhaul of the operator .

Photo_Web_France_Train_080418: Railway workers attend a meeting at Gare du Nord train station during a nationwide strike by French SNCF railway workers, in Paris.© Reuters / Philippe Wojazer Railway workers attend a meeting at Gare du Nord train station during a nationwide strike by French SNCF railway workers, in Paris. 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), with neither unions nor the government showing any willingness to back down.

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 28 June.

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

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"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, with unions pointing to 550,000 euros in donations as of Monday for a fund compensating striking workers' lost wages.

"The more solidarity we see, the more it proves that our fight is justified," Philippe Martinez of the CGT union, the largest at the SNCF, told Europe 1 radio.

"Nobody wants a long, difficult conflict but for now, we're up against a wall," Martinez said.

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Paris: The head of French railway operator SNCF said Monday that rolling strikes that began last week have cost the company around 100 million euros (3 million ) as staff carried out further stoppages.

Rail workers began their strikes on two out of every five working days last week to protest the government's planned overhaul of the operator / © AFP. French rail strikes have cost 100 million euros , operator says .

But 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.

"If we're proposing a new rail pact for the country, it's because reforming the system is essential," Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne told lawmakers as they began debating the reforms in parliament.

The shake-up "has a single goal of better meeting the expectations of our fellow citizens, in particular, those who use (the rail network) daily," Borne said, warning that the SNCF's economic model "is no longer viable".

President Emmanuel Macron, who has barely spoken publicly on the standoff, is set to give two high-profile television interviews this week, nearly a year after sweeping away France's traditional parties with his election victory.

The 40-year-old centrist is pushing reforms for swathes of the French economy, but leftwing critics accuse him of taking a sledgehammer to public services.

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Ⓒ AFP – Philippe Lopez – | A passenger rushes to take a train on a platform at Saint-Lazare station, this Monday, April 9 in Paris. The railway workers’ strike has already cost “a hundred million euros ” (123 million dollars) to the SNCF, the French railway company, said its director general

French rail strikes have cost 100 million euros , operator says . The Consortium includes Action Global, European Journalism Centre, Free Press Unlimited, France Médias Monde, Ipsos Mori and Particip.

Rail unions oppose his plans to do away with the jobs-for-life and early retirement guarantees enjoyed by current SNCF employees.

The SNCF would also be transformed into a private company whose shares are owned by the state -- which unions see as the first step toward privatisation, despite government denials.

But Macron's plan to push through the changes by decree has infuriated union leaders, who denounce the parliamentary debate as a charade by a government with no real desire to negotiate.

Several hundred rail workers braved the steady rain for a protest in Paris, using air horns and firecrackers to make themselves heard by lawmakers in the nearby parliament.

The government says it needs to move quickly ahead of the opening of French passenger rail traffic to competition starting in 2020, part of an EU-wide opening of state rail markets.

The standoff promises weeks of headaches for the network's 4.5 million daily passengers -- which has coincided with a series of strikes at Air France by workers seeking a six percent raise.

The airline, in which the state owns a minority stake, said a quarter of flights would be cancelled on Tuesday, with another day of strikes set for Wednesday.

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The rolling strikes at French railway operator SNCF which began last week have cost the company "around 100 million euros " (3 million ) so far, the operator 's chief executive Guillaume Pepy said Monday.

The head of French railway operator SNCF said Monday that rolling strikes that began last week have cost the company around 100 million euros (3 million ) as staff carried out further stoppages.

Just one in five high-speed TGV trains were running Monday, compared with one in seven or eight during last week's strikes, and about 20 percent of the Eurostar trains connecting London with Paris or Brussels were cancelled.

Pepy noted "quite heavy participation" in Monday's strike, though he said more trains were running overall than last week.

Traffic is forecast to gradually return to normal Tuesday morning, ahead of the next round of strikes on Friday.

But Pepy warned of lasting consequences for the SNCF if the strike extends into the summer.

"When our freight train clients see that the service isn't reliable... they start using the roads, and it's very difficult to get them to come back," he said.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe warned Sunday that the government would not be deterred from the main elements of its reforms.

"I get messages from people who support the government, saying we need to carry this through all the way. And that's what we are going to do," Philippe told the Parisien newspaper.

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