June 13 - It's day three of a French railway strike and the government fears if could drag into next week. As Hayley Platt reports the industrial action will add to fears that France is losing its influence in Europe.
French commuters are going nowhere. It's day three of a strike by railway workers and there's no sign of a return to work. It's the worst disruption France has seen for several years. (SOUNDBITE) (English) TOURIST CAMILLA HITSCHKE SAYING: "We're trying to get down to the South for seven days and now we're not able to get there so we're really upset that this is going on." (SOUNDBITE) (French) TRAVELLERS MICHELE AND ISABELLE SAYING: "We have a boat leaving tonight so we have to leave today. If not we lose our boat tickets." French trade unions are angry about government plans to combine service operator SNCF with rail network RFF. It wants to keep them as separate companies under a single structure. Unions fears that will damage their working conditions. They want a complete merger with the government taking on some of the firms 40 billion euros of debt. It's all another headache for Francois Hollande. The President has been trying to convince the world France still matters as much as it used to - despite a struggling economy and a political crisis. Last month he suffered a humiliating defeat by the hard right National Front in the European elections. He also remains one of the least popular Presidents France has ever had. And the prospect of children missing their exams because they can't get to school is unlikely to improve that