Strikes to disrupt French trains, flights, schools Thursday

Strikes to disrupt French trains, flights, schools Thursday

A third of flights into and out of the main Paris airports of Charles de Gaulle, Orly and Beauvais will be cancelled during a strike by air traffic controllers, though long-haul flights are not affected.

They are planning to strike two days out of every five throughout the months of April to June.

Teachers, train conductors, and airline controllers marched all over France on Thursday, March 22.

Only 40 percent of high-speed TGV services will be running on Thursday, and four Eurostar trains between London and Paris have been cancelled.

Some schools and kindergartens were also closed.

Police in helmets and body armour took up positions around the Super-U supermarket.The Paris prosecutor's office said counter-terrorism prosecutors were investigating the incident but did not comment on the possible Islamic State allegiance.

Public servants are angry over pay that hasn't kept up with inflation, while unions accuse Macron of wanting to dismantle the public sector.

Following a time-consuming dinner discussion, leaders of the European Union (EU) on Thursday gave credence to Britain's allegation that "highly likely" Russian Federation is responsible for poisoning a former spy on British soil, in which Moscow has denied any involvement.

Macron aims to eliminate 120,000 civil-service jobs, privatize the national railways and stop hiring new railway workers during his 5-year tenure. More than 100 marches were planned across the country on Thursday.

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Surveys show public opinion largely behind his bid to end some of the historic rights of railway workers, including pension benefits and guarantees of a job for life.

Strikers were answering the call of seven French unions to reject President Emmanuel Macron's economic measures.

Macron has stayed sanguine through criticism over his reforms, insisting he was elected on a mandate to shake France up.

"We are going to continue reforming France in depth. with the certitude that our country needs this transformation to make up for the ground lost over previous decades", Macron told reporters during a trip to India last week.

Workers of the SNCF protest against the railroad reform announced by the government, considered a threat for a sector that is a model in public service in France. "What this government is doing is simply not OK", said 65-year old pensioner Françoise Rauch, a former SNCF rail operator who said he was also protesting tax hikes on pensions. "It is a provisional assessment as it could unfortunately get worse".

Though surveys suggest a majority see rolling rail strikes as unjustified, they could potentially be the biggest since 1995, when weeks of walkouts paralysed the national network.

An estimated 200,000 people took to the streets to express their objections to several of the moves initiated by Macron.

He was also suspected, without any certainty, of having travelled to Syria, Le Parisien said, adding that the family flat, where he would have been living with his parents and three or four sisters, was raided by police on Friday afternoon.

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