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French rail unions say SNCF reforms will derail public service

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French rail unions say SNCF reforms will derail public service

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The upper house of the French parliament, the Senate, has approved contested reforms of the state railway operator, the SNCF.

The changes have already been approved in a slightly different form by the lower house.

Since they were announced rail unions have been holding staggered strikes for the last two months, and union leaders promised more industrial action. The strikes have severely disrupted rail traffic.

They point to similar reforms across Europe that they say have led to degrading of services, an increase in costs for users, and worse working conditions.

The bill includes the end of jobs-for-life, automatic annual pay rises and ends early retirement rights for new company hires.

It also redefines the legal corporate status of the SNCF that the government say prepares the SNCF for EU-wide competition changes,