Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - French transport strike brings Christmas woe

French transport strike brings Christmas woe

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Now in its 20th day, the walkout has ruined Christmas travel plans for tens of thousands of ticket holders. afp

French transport strike brings Christmas woe

Christmas Eve in France was set to be marred by the nearly three-week standoff between French train drivers and the government over pension reforms.

Now in its 20th day, the walkout has ruined Christmas travel plans for tens of thousands of ticket holders unable to reach loved ones in time for Christmas Day on Wednesday.

Workers at the national SNCF and Parisian RATP rail and public transport companies have downed tools to protest at the government’s plan to meld France’s 42 pension schemes into a single points-based one, which would see some public employees lose certain privileges.

There will be no surprises under the Christmas tree for those keen to travel on Tuesday, with up to 40 percent of high-speed rail and express regional trains cancelled, along with up to 20 percent of other trains.

The SNCF has also announced that on Tuesday evening trains between Paris and its suburbs will be halted. Some lines will reopen Wednesday morning, others only on Thursday.

Laurent Brun of the hard-line CGT union, said strikers have a “set of plans to celebrate Christmas” together while maintaining action all week-long.

Talks between the government and unions last week failed to find middle ground, and strikers vowed there would be no holiday truce unless the pension overhaul plan was scrapped.

Trade unions and others involved in the strike will meet with the government on January 7 to discuss the pension reforms, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe’s office said Monday. The talks are set to run through the month of January.

On Saturday and Sunday, the last weekend before Christmas, the SCNF provided half the usual number of TGV high-speed trains, a third of regional TER services, a quarter of intercity trains, and one in five connecting Paris to its outer suburbs.

Unions are angry about the government’s plans, which would see some public employees – notably railway staff – lose early-retirement and other benefits.

The government insists the new system would be fairer and more transparent.

Unions are hoping for a repeat of 1995 when the government backed down on pension reform after three weeks of metro and rail stoppages just before Christmas – a cherished holiday for many French people.

But their action is taking a heavy toll on businesses, especially retailers, hotels and restaurants, during what should be one of the busiest periods of the year.

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases

  • Cambodia to make auto-rickshaws

    Locally-assembled electric auto-rickshaws could hit the Cambodian market as soon as early in May after the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) gave the greenlight to an investment project at the weekend. According to a CDC press release, it will issue a final registration