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Less disruption on French railways on fifth strike day

media Rail workers demosntrate in Lyon last week REUTERS/Emmanuel Foudtrot

Fewer trains were cancelled on the French rail network on Friday than on the previous days of rolling strikes against President Emmanuel Macron's plan to overhaul the SNCF national operator. Students joined a demonstration with rail workers on Friday after an abortive attempt to occupy the Sorbonne.

One in three high-speed TGV trains were scheduled to run on Friday, with regional networks suffering some disruption but the Eurostar link to London running normally and the Thalys to Brussels almost normal, according to the company's management.

About 38 percent of "indispensable personnel" was on strike, the SNCF said, compared to 48 percent on the first two days of strike action, 35 percent on the third day, last Sunday, and 43 percent on Monday.The rail unions are staging two days of strike action every week against Macron's plans to scrap their special employment status and take measures linked to opening the networ up to competition.

Macron on Thursday told a television interviewer that he intended to see his plan through to the end, although the government has made on concession - workers who are transferred to other operators will be allowed to keep their employment terms, according to an amendment passed in parliament this week.

Sorbonne occupation cleared

Several hundred students and trade unionists staged a joint demonstration in Paris on Friday afternoon.

Police cleared the Sorbonne University overnight after an attempt to occupy it but the Tolbiac site remains under occupation following the police rejection of the dean's request to clear it.

Four out of 70 universities are now closed by protests against the government's plan to tighten enrolment conditions in the first year with others facing protests on some of their sites.

Negotiations to end the ongoing dispute at Air France started again on Thursday and were to continue on Friday.

The CGT union called on workers at Carrefour supermarkets to stage pots-and-pans protests this weekend and the following one following a strike over wages that hit 300 sites at the beginning of the month.

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