French railway strike enters third day

French railway strike enters third day :A French railway strike has entered its third day, amid fears that one of the longest stoppages in years could continue into next week.

Train workers across France entered their third day of strike on Friday, affecting thousands of passengers nationwide.

The massive strike has reduced the workforce by roughly a quarter and only 40 percent of standard intercity routes are running.

President Francois Hollande has called for an end to the protest action, adding that it would not mean that dialogue could not continue.

Hollande’s request comes as the government has received information that the strike will drag on into next week.

According to Transport Minister Frederic Cuvillier, two unions involved in the strike have flagged plans to keep up the industrial action.

The stoppage, which began on June 11, was initially supposed to last 24 hours. However, it has been extended twice as talks between several unions and Cuvillier failed to yield any results.

Train workers are against the government’s proposed spending cut plans that would bring the state-owned SNCF rail company and the RFF, the firm that maintains the rail network, under one holding company, while keeping their operations separate.

The French Transport Ministry has predicted that the railway sector’s debt will soar to more than USD 108 billion by 2025 from the current USD 54 billion if the proposed changes are not implemented.

The train workers, however, fear their working conditions will be comprised and that the reforms would not help contain the debt.

Unions have instead called for the two companies to fully merge into one company, as they did before 1997. They also want Hollande’s government to take on some 40-billion euros in debt owned by the two firms.

French railway strike enters third day

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