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France’s Railway Strike Impacts Domestic, International Traffic

  • VOA News

Passenger walks past an empty a platform at the Saint-Charles railway station, in Marseille , southern France, June, 1, 2016.

Passenger walks past an empty a platform at the Saint-Charles railway station, in Marseille , southern France, June, 1, 2016.

About half of France’s train traffic was halted Wednesday as rail workers went on strike to protest their working conditions and proposed changes to French labor rules.

According to National Society of French Railways, SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français), about 40 percent of France's high-speed trains and more than half of regional trains were cancelled.

Eurostar trains to London are running normally, though more than half of trains to Spain and Italy, and about 25 percent of trains to Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland are affected. The strike has impacted commuter trains serving Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport.

The strike is part of a nationwide labor action this week in response to a bill that would allow employers more freedom to lay off workers and extend working hours.

The socialist government of President Francois Hollande hopes it will revive hiring and the economy, but unions see it as a threat to fundamental worker’s rights.

Three of the four rail unions representing workers at SNCF called for an open-ended strike Wednesday, and are threatening to continue the job stoppage through the start of the European Championship Football tournament on June 10.

The event is expected to attract 2.5 million French and foreign spectators at stadiums across France for the month-long event.

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