PARIS: Railways workers were urged Friday to join civil servants in a nation-wide day of protest next month against President Emmanuel Macron’s reform agenda in what will be a major test of strength.
The leader of France’s biggest trade union, the CGT, called the rail protests on March 22 over plans by the government to remove some of the privileges enjoyed by workers on the train network.
The trigger was a major report recommending an overhaul of the debt-laden SNCF rail system which was submitted to Macron’s centrist government on Thursday.
“Rail workers will organise a national protest day on March 22 and of course rail workers will defend public services, their jobs and their status,” the head of the CGT Philippe Martinez told France Inter radio.
Civil servants are also set to demonstrate the same day over a proposed shake up that will see some workers offered redundancy packages and higher use of short-term contracts.
Macron wants to cut 120,000 public sector jobs over the course of his five-year term.
He faced a first series of demonstrations led by the CGT in September and October last year over his reforms to the labour code, which were unsuccessful in preventing the changes becoming law.
The victory for the government led to questions about whether the once fearsome French trade unions are still able to mobilise large crowds and cripple public services.
Large demonstrations and strikes are a common feature of French democracy and have repeatedly forced governments into policy U-turns in the past.
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