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French president holds talks with unions to avert strike action during Euro 2016

The French government is holding talks with unions as a strike by SNCF state-rail staff enters a sixth consecutive day. Energy sector employees have called for fresh industrial action.

As a strike by French state-rail staff entered a sixth consecutive day on Monday, a new round of talks on a reorganization of working time was to be held at the SNCF state railway.

Energy sector employees have called for fresh industrial action just four days before the opening of the Euro 2016 football tournament.

Air France pilots have announced plans to strike from Saturday, the second day of the Euros, in a separate dispute over pay cuts.

President Hollande said on French radio on Sunday that "no one would understand it if trains and planes -I'm thinking of the Air France pilots' dispute - were to prevent fans traveling around easily, even if the competition itself has nothing to fear."

Hollande's comments came as a survey carried out at the end of last week showed that 54 percent of French people interviewed were against the protests. That is a turnaround from the previous poll in May which showed 54 percent in favor.

"Days before the start of the Euro football tournament, while no solution to the social crisis is in sight, support for the protest movement against the labor reform is dwindling," Agnes Balle of BVA Opinion commented.

The labor strikes in France

are being carried out against the background of legislation for labor reform currently going through parliament.

Torrential rain and record flooding have also caused substantial disruption. The River Seine in Paris, which rose more than six meters above its normal level on Friday night, had fallen back to 5.47 meters (17 feet 9 inches) above normal by Monday morning. Thousands of homes are still without power as the cleanup across northern France continues.

bc/jm (AFP, Reuters)

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