France preparing for a second day of travel cancellations as union strike bites

The protest brought parts of Paris to a standstill on Thursday (AFP Photo/BULENT KILIC)

France was on Friday preparing for a second day of travel cancellations and school closures as unions warned there would be no let-up in the strike called to protest planned pension reforms.

The protest brought parts of Paris to a standstill on Thursday./AFP Photo/BULENT KILIC

The first day of a strike, seen as a major test for President Emmanuel Macron’s ambitious vision of reforming France, saw giant rallies across the country coupled with walkouts that paralyzed transport and closed schools.

Friday was set to follow a similar pattern, with almost all high-speed train services cancelled, most of the Paris metro system shut down and hundreds of flights set to be axed.

Yves Veyrier, head of the hardline FO union, warned the strike could last at least until Monday if the government did not take the right action.

“The strike is not going to stop tonight,” added Philippe Martinez, secretary general of the CGT union, late on Thursday.

But it remains far from certain the protests will match the magnitude of the 1995 strikes when France was paralyzed for three weeks from November to December in an action that forced the then government into concessions.

As on Thursday, national train operator SNCF had axed 90 percent of the high-speed TGVs on Friday and just 30 percent of regional trains will run.

On the Paris metro, 10 lines will remain totally shut, four will work at a much reduced capacity and only two the driverless 1 and 14 will work normally.

Flag carrier Air France is again axing 30 percent of domestic flights. There will also be severe disruptions on the Eurostar, with some two dozen trains cancelled on the cross-Channel route.

A weekend of travel misery is also expected.

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