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President of the political movement ‘En Marche !’ (Onwards !) and French presidential election candidate Emmanuel Macron meets strike employees of Whirlpool on April 26, 2017 in Amiens, France.
“Our organizations do not share the objectives pursued by the government, which involve reducing the scope of the public sector with a view to abandoning or even privatizing departments,” the unions said in a joint statement Tuesday, Reuters reported.
Macron’s administration has previously said that reforms are necessary because the changes will reduce costs while ultimately improving efficiency.
The last major public sector strike in France was in 1995. The then-prime minister, Alain Juppe, attempted a wide program of welfare cutbacks but was forced into a climb-down after railway workers downed tools over his plans to end the right to retire at 55.
“Despite the trade unions’ initial success, the government is unlikely to backtrack on its plans. The overhaul of the SNCF has become the litmus test for Macron’s ability to introduce changes in sectors that have traditionally been considered unreformable; back-pedaling would only embolden trade unions to block reforms in other areas such as pensions,” Teneo Intelligence’s Barroso said.
— CNBC’s David Reid contributed to this report.