>> Commuter chaos in Paris on Tuesday as the first wave of three months of French rail strikes began. Threatening to put the brakes on President Emmanuel Macron's plans to transform the French economy. The country's four main rail unions have called two days of stoppages to be repeated every five days.
They're protesting a shake up of state-owned railway company SNCF. Macron wants to turn that heavily endebted firm into a profit maker. The unions say, he's paving the way for privatization. Commuter lines into Paris will be hit hard in what the SNCF expects to be one of the strike prone countries biggest walkouts in years.
Only one in eight of France's high speed intercity trains will run and international services are also disrupted. Nearly half of SNCF's workforce said in advance that they be taking part.
ey fear Macron's plans could put their job for life guarantees, automatic annual payrolls, and a generous early retirement policy at risk.
And the President also has a lot to lose. The outcome of this strike is likely to set the tone for his reform agenda in areas such as education and pensions. And the last time a French President took on the rail unions, it ended badly. The strikes of 1995 paralyzed Paris and forced Prime Minister Alain Juppe to back down, a defeat from which he failed to recover.
But French unions are much weaker today than they were then. And according to a poll published on Sunday, more than half of French people think this strike is unjustified.