Transport strike cost French economy up to €4 billion
The French Finance Ministry has estimated that the railway and public transportation strike that is gradually ending after 10 days cost France’s economy up to €4 billion (about $6 billion), France-Info radio reported Friday.
And more costs are to be tabulated, as Labor Minister Xavier Bertrand told France 3 television late Thursday that commuters who were not able to use their weekly or monthly transportation passes during the strike would be reimbursed in January. The national railway network SNCF said traffic was gradually returning to normal on Friday, with some disruptions in regional train traffic reported. The RATP urban transit system serving the greater Paris area said that most Paris metro and commuter lines were operating at normal capacity, and that 80% of the city’s buses were running. Both the SNCF and RATP said that all traffic should be restored to normal by Sunday at the latest.
However, France-Info reported that most of the railway workers who voted to end the walkout were talking about a “suspension” of the strike, rather than a definitive end. A renewal of the labor conflict depends on the progress of negotiations over a proposed pension reform that aims to end certain retirement privileges for some 500,000 workers in the railway and energy sectors.
Talks between labor, government representatives and RATP and SNCF management began Wednesday and are scheduled to be resumed next week. It is uncertain if rank-and-file union members will accept having their years of payment into the pension system increased from 37.5 to 40 years, a proposal the government has vowed not to withdraw. The SNCF has reportedly put forward an offer that would give workers affected by the reform a supplementary pension and wage hikes toward the end of their careers, measures that could cost up to €100 million per year. (m&c.com)
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