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Strikes set to cause major disruption on French railways

04 April 2018

RTL radio reported that her office might have laughed off one or two attempts to cash in on the first lady's status, but staff had enough after similar e-mails were sent from destinations as far-flung as France, Morocco, Australia and Hong Kong.

"We hope France doesn't come to us for help when the terrorists running from Syria and Iraq fill their country after being encouraged by their policy", he said.

The rail strikes, set to last until 28 June, are being seen as the biggest challenge yet to 4the president's sweeping plans to shake up France and make it more competitive, earning comparisons with Margaret Thatcher's showdown with the British coal unions in 1984.

A quarter of Air France flights will be grounded Tuesday by a separate strike over pay.

"Much of the discussion centered on the best way to accompany the huge changes made possible by artificial intelligence and their ethical implications, and to ensure they are beneficial to humanity", said Marie-Paule Cani, who will hold Google's new AI chair, of the evening's exchanges.

The announcement states that only 15% of the high-speed trains and 25% of the slower will travel during the protest.

Three-quarters of Eurostar trains to London and Brussels will run Monday and Thalys trains towards Belgium and the Netherlands will operate nearly normally, but there will be none at all to Spain, Italy or Switzerland.

The waste collection, electricity and energy sectors also expect strikes.

Mr Macron's government says the SNCF needs to reform as European Union countries open passenger rail to competition by 2020.

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"There's no chance of controlling any effects (of these technologies) or having a say on any adverse effect if we've missed the start of the war", the president said on Thursday in front of a row of ministers and top executives, including BNP Paribas Jean-Laurent Bonnafé.

Unions say the centrist ex-investment banker intends to "destroy the public railways through pure ideological dogmatism".

They fear employees could lose job-for-life guarantees, automatic annual pay rises and generous early retirement under the reform of the highly indebted SNCF.

However, bigger tests await Macron.

The government has so far had public opinion on its side over the rail reforms.

It will be a major test of the French trade unions' clout. Forty-eight per cent of staff are set to join the strike today.

The government has sought to ease tensions with assurances that the arrival of foreign competition on French rail tracks, penciled in for gradual rollout from 2020 onwards, can be delayed until as late as 2033 in some cases.

"Who will get exhausted the quickest? Or the ambitious young president determined to turn a page?"

Strikes set to cause major disruption on French railways