'8 out of 10 drivers' join rail strike

Rail operator SNCF warns of similar levels of disruption on Wednesday

3 April 2018
By Connexion journalist

Nearly 8 out of 10 train drivers walked out on the first day of three months of strikes on Tuesday, according to official figures - but the percentage of SNCF staff joining the dispute was slightly down on the previous strike in March.

SNCF said that 33.9% of its total workforce were on strike on Tuesday, compared to 35.9% on March 22. After train drivers, 69% of controllers joined the dispute, but only 15.5% of administrative staff were involved.

As reported, commuters found other ways of getting into work on Tuesday, but those who were forced from rail onto road were forced to battle their way through 'exceptional' traffic jams.

SNCF, meanwhile, has warned commuters to expect similar disruption tomorrow, with six out of seven TGV services cancelled, and only one in five TER and Transilien trains scheduled to operate.

The CGT union, whose members are leading the strike in protest against SNCF reforms, said that its members were prepared to "block the whole country".

The union's Secretary General Philippe Martinez told France Inter: "We don't want a hard conflict. But we have to get there."

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe praised SNCF customers for their patience on the opening day of the dispute. He told MPs in the National Assembly that he heard "both strikers" and "those who want to go to work".

"I must say that I hear as much from strikers, who sometimes say so forcefully, as from those who do not accept this strike ... those who want to go to work, want to continue to enjoy their constitutional freedom to come and go," he told MPs in the National Assembly.

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