On May 23, workers of the national railway operator SNCF decisively voted against French President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to reorganize the railways in an internal ballot organized by labor unions, Reuters reported.
“This vote totally discredits the SNCF management,” the head of the General Confederation of Labour rail division Laurent Brun said. “It would be a mistake to ignore this warning.”
The government has criticized the ballot as an illegal petition.
On May 22, more than 15,000 people took the streets of Paris and other 140 French cities to protest against Macrons’ economic reforms. The demonstrations resulted in violent clashes between protestors and police.
Nine public-sector unions representing 5.7 million public service agents urged civil servants to stop work and join nationwide street protests.
The French government has pledged to cut 120,000 government administration posts to reform the economic system of the country. One of the major issues is the reform of the SNCF by the time Macron’s term ends in 2022. Under the reform, the railway workers will be restricted in guarantees and salary as the government intends to end up the SNCF monopoly.
The railway workers started strikes on April 3, carrying out two-days protests every five days until June 28.
On April 17, Macron won a convincing victory in the French Lower house when his SNCF reform bill had passed by 454 votes to 80. The French Upper house is due to vote on it in early June.
On May 1, about 1,200 protesters turned up on the sidelines of the annual May Day demonstration by labour unions. Police used water cannon and teargas against protesters who had smashed shop windows, hurled petrol bombs, fired up cars.
On May 25, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is to meet with the unions and respond to proposed improvement to the draft bill.