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30.12.2019 Europe

Travel disruption continues in strike-hit France

By Paul Myers - RFI
REUTERS/Jean-Michel Belo
LISTEN DEC 30, 2019
REUTERS/Jean-Michel Belo

Travellers in France face another day of chaos on Monday after bosses at the state-run rail network, SNCF, and the Paris transport operator, RATP, announced significantly reduced services on the 26th day of strikes in protest against the government's planned pension reforms.

SNCF said it would lay on 50 percent of the scheduled high-speed long distance trains and 40 percent of the provincial services. Only 25 percent of the trains around the Paris region would run, it added.

Transport in Paris will be patchy, said RATP. Lines 1 and 14 will work all day. However 12 other lines will only function during the morning and evening rush hours. Lines 7bis and 13 will remain shut.

On Sunday, the transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari and Philippe Martinez, the leader of the CGT union, exchanged vitriol over the industrial action.

In interviews with the Journal du Dimanche, Djebbari accused Martinez's union of obstructionism and refusing to offer constructive suggestions over the pension reforms. Martinez lambasted the government's hardball tactics.

Prime minister Edouard Philippe is scheduled to reopen talks with unions on 7 January. His meeting will fall a week after President Emmanuel Macron's end of year address to the nation.

Macron is expected to plead for a more emolient tone in the debate over his policies to streamline France's unwieldy system of retirement benefits.