Rail Workers Overwhelmingly Oppose Government’s Reform Agenda in Union Vote Amidst Ongoing Strikes
Rail workers in France on Wednesday cast an internal ballot to discredit the government’s intention to introduce new changes within the rail transport sector. This vote comes after two days of consecutive demonstrations by numerous labor unions within the nation.
Although the result of the vote was expected, it is certain that the government would do little to bulge from its hardline position as far as the proposed reforms are concerned. The administration of the labor union is ardent in its bid to block by all means the government’s move even as they were motivated by other oppositions rendered by the Air France on government reforms. The air transport union had to oust their CEO in order to maintain their opposition and weaken the government’s intended move.
Despite the SNCF management's support of the government’s proposed reforms, the union vote outcome was a clear warning that workers were not willing to be part of the move. Speaking after the vote, Laurent Brun, who is the head of the CGT railway division, said in a press briefing that the views aired by the workers through the ballot should not be discredited. Over 95 percent of the voters who cast their ballot opposed the proposed reforms with the voter turnout exceeding 60 percent.
Soon after, the government, through officials, dismissed the vote as an insignificant move that would not be of any consequence in the quest to change the administration form of the railway system in the country.
Although the strikes are intended to go on for the rest of the week, their effects are far less than anticipated as the transport system has not been overly paralyzed, although there have been some significant disruptions within the network.
The disputed reform agenda is the first of its kind within the President Macron’s one-year period in office who has not offered any public statement directly days after the demonstrations began. His transport minister, Elisabeth Borne, was however quick to point out that the government would not rescind its position on the reform agenda to be undertaken not just in the railway system but also other areas of the economy.
The administration from the state-owned SNCF revealed that the two-day-old strike has already cost the company over 350 million Euros. With no resolution in sight, the losses may further increase in the coming days.
In the bid to resolve the matter within the shortest reasonable time, the Prime Minister will on Friday meet the labor union heads in order to iron out the contentious issues.
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