Rail workers across France have gone on strike for the first day of a three-month rolling walkout, the latest and potentially biggest battle over labor laws in the country since President Emmanuel Macron took office last May promising to transform the jobs market.
Train services have been severely disrupted, with around 87% of high-speed trains and 80% of regional services canceled Tuesday, according to SNCF, France’s state-owned rail company.
Eurostar services were also affected, with one in four services from Paris canceled. High-speed Thalys trains towards Belgium and the Netherlands were operating almost as normal, but there were no services towards Switzerland, Spain or Italy.
Tuesday’s walkout — dubbed “Black Tuesday” by the French media — comes less than two weeks after a nationwide strike across the public and transport sectors as workers protested the government’s proposed labor overhauls, including the plans to open the SNCF to competition.
Unions have called for the “strongest possible” strike to protest proposed reforms that they believe would lead to the privatization of the railways, and to call for higher wages and an end to precarious jobs. The government said there were no plans to privatize SNCF, which is 45 billion euros ($56 billion) in debt, according to Reuters.