Robert Harneis -TDO- (FRANCE) President Macron of France is facing the first serious challenge to his package of neo-liberal economic reforms.
Only one high-speed TGV train out of eight and one regional train in five will be running on today as part of a massive strike by French workers that affects several sectors in a bid to resist president Emmanuel Macron's reform agenda. The planned three-month rolling strike is the biggest challenge to Macron's plans. Unions accuse the president of trying to "destroy the public railways through pure ideological dogmatism".
The indirect cause of the strike is the European Union directive that establishes a Common European Rail Area and requires free competition throughout. This has forced the French government to reduce the rights of rail workers, in particular their job security.
The Unions have shrewdly chosen to only withdraw their labor for two weekdays out of five. This will cause the maximum inconvenience whilst making sure that the strikers receive enough money to live on during what looks to be a long drawn out affair.
The government is however in a strong position politically as there is no strong opposition in parliament. Should other workers join the strike and should it drag on too long the position may change. It is possible that Hospital workers will be the next group to withdraw their labor.
Government Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said at the weekend that the government would not pull back from economic reforms that had helped make 2017 the best year for foreign corporate investment in France since 2001.