Nationwide strikes in France against railway reforms have resulted in all rail connections to Switzerland being cancelled on Tuesday.
The so-called Black Tuesday marked the first day of a series of strikes expected to last until the end of June. Rail employees have been called upon to stop work on two out of five days every week until June 30.
More than three-quarters of train drivers took part in strike action, according to the rail unions. Only one in eight long-distance trains ran on Tuesday, and train connections to Switzerland, Spain and Italy were completely cancelled.
The strike is set to be a major test of President Emmanuel Macron’s ability to push through reforms. At its core, Macron’s reform would abolish the railway employees’ quasi-status as civil servants, which includes job-for-life guarantees, retirement at an average age of 54 and automatic annual pay rises.
French Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne said that despite the protests, the government did not want to give in to the workers’ demands. It was, however, “committed to coordination and dialogue with the trade unions”, she said.
A meeting with train union representatives was scheduled for Thursday.
Air traffic was also disrupted on Tuesday. Air France crew and ground staff went on strike to demand a 6% pay rise with further strikes expected over the coming months. At Zurich airport, three flights to Paris were cancelled, as well as two Air France flights scheduled to fly from Paris to Zurich. In Paris and other cities rubbish collectors were also on strike.