France’s rail workers are striking for the first time since last November, and it has produced chaos in Paris.
International traffic is unaffected, but the 24-hour strike against the company’s restructuring plan for the freight sector, which unions say will cost 6000 jobs, appears solid. However, management says only around a quarter of the workforce has answered the unions’ call. Strikers are leafleting travellers to argue their case; this is as important for them as industrial action because new public sector minimum service legislation means a complete stoppage is illegal. One commuter said: “The train arrived a little late, which is a shame because there were a lot of people. We’re packed like sardines on the platform, but it’s never easy.” Another said: “It’s awful, as usual. There are always problems in any case, whether there’s a strike or not, there’s always something to worry about.” The high speed train network in the east is running normally, and elsewhere it is more of a restricted service than a full-blown national strike. Three of the four main unions are backing the workers, and the public appears broadly supportive of their claims – for now. The strike ends tomorrow.