French rail boss hopes to end strike before Euro 2016 kick-off

Tue Jun 7, 2016 3:43pm EDT
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By Brian Love and Emmanuel Jarry

PARIS (Reuters) - The head of French state railway SNCF said on Tuesday he hoped the powerful CGT union would endorse a new deal on working conditions and end a strike before the Euro 2016 soccer tournament, hosted by France, starts on Friday.

Officials from other labor unions also said they expected the CGT to progressively pull out of the strike over the coming days. Strike turnout has already fallen to about half of what it was a week ago when the stoppages began.

Under pressure from a government keen to calm the situation before the Euro 2016 starts, the SNCF has put new proposals to unions that will preserve most current working conditions and even improve some.

Two reformist unions that have the second and fourth biggest membership among rail workers said they would back the proposals while the smaller Sud Rail rejected it. The CGT, the biggest union in the firm, has not yet taken a stance.

"There's no reason whatsoever now to continue the strike," said SNCF chief executive Guillaume Pepy.

The strike has so far cost the SNCF more than 300 million euros ($340 million), a sum Pepy said was equivalent to 2015 profits.

Optimistic after a marathon overnight meeting that tackled issues such as night shifts and rest periods, Pepy said he saw the strike ending possibly on Wednesday or Thursday.

Speaking in parliament, Prime Minister Manuel Valls echoed Pepy's words, saying "there is now no reason left to strike."   Continued...

Striking employees of Roissy airport hold French CGT labour union flags during a demonstration against the labour reforms law at the Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Roissy, near Paris, France, June 7, 2016.   REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer