SNCF strike disrupts travel in France

A Syrian man waves to Turkish soldiers securing the streets of the northwestern city of Afrin Syria during a Turkish government-organised media tour into northern Syria Saturday

Three-quarters of Eurostar trains to London and Brussels will run Monday and Thalys trains towards Belgium and the Netherlands will operate nearly normally, but there will be none at all to Spain, Italy or Switzerland.At Air France, where staff is striking for the fifth time to demand a pay rise, managers said 75 percent of flights would operate.

France's CGT trade union has called energy sector workers to join rail unions in a rolling nationwide strike against President Emmanuel Macron's planned liberalisation reforms.

Macron eyed the reforms to make France more competitive and his plans were being compared with former United Kingdom prime minister Margaret Thatcher's showdown with the coal unions of Britain in the 1980s.

Employees of Air France, who are demanding a 6% pay rise, have already begun industrial action.

Thalys trains between France, Belgium and the Netherlands should be running normally.

Mr Macron's Republic at the Transfer birthday celebration celebration in addition really feels the strike has bigger undertones.

In a series of five executive orders last August, Macron laid out his goals: to give companies more flexibility in hiring and firing workers, more power to negotiate working conditions directly with employees, and less financial risk in cases of wrongful dismissals. Recent polls also show that support for Macron among voters has fallen since his election, which could weaken his position in the dispute. Workers are striking to stop President Macron's proposed overhaul at state rail operator SNCF. Union bosses have also expressed concern that increasing the competitiveness of the railways could mean increased ticket prices for travelers.

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Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne urged labour unions to negotiate, telling BFM TV in an interview today that "some of them are clearly trying to turn this into a political issue". Only one in eight high-speed TGV trains ran and global services were severely affected too.

Farid Hachelef, a 32-year-old who works in construction, said he had spent the night in Paris with a friend rather than trying to travel in from the northern suburb of Argenteuil, "otherwise, I would never make it".

"Our vision is of a railway system offering a public service".

The French government has been trying to push through changes to labor laws for decades, with one of the strongest drives coming in 1995. Among train drivers the participation rate was put at 77 percent.

The protests come as France prepares to mark the 50th anniversary of the student-led riots of May 1968, when the entire economy came to a virtual halt.

The railway workers leading the charge this time do not appear to have the same level of public backing, but Santinelli is optimistic. "That depends on the government - we are ready to discuss it", he said.

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