Two-thirds back SNCF reforms: survey

Less than a month before the first of a planned 36 days of strikes across three months, an online poll delivers a blow for unions as it reveals widespread support for planned overhaul of debt-laden rail operator

Nearly two-thirds of French people believe the government's planned reforms of rail operator SNCF 'will be good for the future' of the company.

With less than a month before the first of a planned 36 days of strikes over three months by rail workers opposed to the reforms, a total 65% of those polled were in favour of the government's proposals, compared to 33% who believed the reforms would damage SNCF.

In more bad news for the unions, support for the strike was limited, with 43% of respondents saying they were 'hostile' or 'opposed' to the walkouts, compared to 34% who supported the unions, and 22% who described themselves as 'indifferent'.

The proposed changes would end guaranteed employment and generous pension benefits for new hires, have infuriated unions who say the government is trying to make them a scapegoat for the company's woes.

The overhaul would turn the SNCF into a publicly listed company, though the state would own 100% of the shares, and the government has denied union claims that the move is the first step toward privatisation.

Of those polled, 61% said they had a favourable opinion of SNCF employees.

The Elabe online poll for regional newspaper Nice Matin was carried out before the unions announced their intentions to strike for two days out of five for three months.

A total 1,000 adults - described as a representative cross-section of the population - took part in the online poll on March 13 and 14.

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