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France plagued by strikes as Euro 2016 begins

France plagued by strikes as Euro 2016 begins
Open-ended strikes over controversial labor reforms continue to disrupt France

PARIS (AA)- Open-ended strikes over controversial labor reforms continue to plague France, just a few hours before the European football championship’s opening match Friday night in Paris.

France was still mired on Friday in ongoing strikes in the rail and sanitation sectors. One by Air France pilots will be in effect starting Saturday.

The access to the Stade de France in Saint-Denis , where tournament host France will meet Romania at 9 p.m. (1900GMT), is disrupted as rail workers continue to strike for the 10th day in a row.

The country’s rail company, SNCF, said it will have 50 trains going "to and from the stadium", which "will carry between 20,000 and 30,000 travelers."

On Thursday, Alain Krakovitch, the SNCF director for the Paris suburb service, called on fans to “come to the stadium as soon as possible”, adding it will open at 6 p.m., three hours before the match starts.

As many as 80,000 people are expected at the Stade de France Friday evening. Train conductors and other staff on Thursday voted to remain on strike.

Air France pilots’ two largest unions last week filed for an official four-day strike from Saturday June 11 to June 14.

Air France said on Friday that it would see 25 percent of its medium-haul flights to and from Paris-CDG canceled on Saturday, with 25 percent of pilots taking part in the strike.

The airline will cancel a further 10 percent of its long-haul flights and 10 percent of its domestic flights for the day.

The airline said in a statement that the pilots’ strike "will jeopardize […] the company’s positive results after eight years of losses."

Sanitation workers started a strike last weekend, leading to bins and garbage piling up in streets across the country.

One of six trash-collection centers in the French capital was operating normally and a third of garbage truck drivers were refusing to work, according to the Paris municipality.

The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, vowed on Friday that "all the garbage" would be removed Friday. "All the garbage will be picked up […] now, today," Hidalgo told French broadcaster BFM TV on Friday morning.

She added that 50 extra garbage trucks had been deployed on Thursday to help with the clean-up, and an additional 30 on Friday.

Hidalgo said the city had hired private companies for support.

The industrial action, over a set of controversial labor reforms dubbed “El Khomri law” for Labor Minister Myriam El Khomri, have been on and off during the last three months, but intensified two weeks ago when the country’s largest union, CGT, called for open-ended strikes in rail, energy and other sectors.

The union said it would not break the strikes until the Socialist government scraps the contested labor bill. The CGT says the bill paves the way for fundamental changes in labor law at the expense of workers.

The reform bill is due to be debated at the Senate from June 13. The unions have already filed a notice for a national general strike set for June 14, four days after the football tournament begins.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls threatened on Wednesday to "heavily penalize" the strikers.

The Euro 2016 tournament from June 10 to July 10, in 10 French cities: Bordeaux, Lens, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Paris, Saint-Denis, Saint-Etienne, and Toulouse.

France is expecting more than 2.5 million ticket holders and millions of additional fans across 10 cities. Security has been already beefed up security in fear of possible terrorist attacks.

source: News Feed
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