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French Rail Strike Enters Third Day, Puts Tests at Risk

June 13 (Bloomberg) -- A strike at France’s national rail service entered a third day, with unions threatening to continue protesting until June 16, when high-school students start their baccalaureate exams.

“I regret this situation,” Secretary of state for Transport Frederic Cuvillier said on France Info radio. “The Bac day is threatened.”

Workers, mainly from the two labor unions CGT and Sud Rail, are protesting a plan to merge the country’s rail operator and network manager. The plan will be discussed and voted on in parliament this month. About 23 percent of railway workers participated in the strike yesterday, national rail operator SNCF said on its website.

Today, about half the local trains are being canceled. About a third of high-speed trains are running, SNCF said on its website. The commuter train system serving the Paris region has been disrupted, SNCF said. Eurostar trains to London and the Thalys service to the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany are running normally.

The striking workers want to stop a draft law that would merge SNCF and railway network manager RFF in a structure unions say is too complex and could lead to the loss of employee benefits. The draft law, supported by the Socialist-led government, aims to prepare France for the opening of its rail services to rival European operators.

To contact the reporter on this story: Helene Fouquet in Paris at hfouquet1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alan Crawford at acrawford6@bloomberg.net Vidya Root, David Whitehouse

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