TGV high-speed services will be among those hit (Picture courtesy of Reuters)

Train drivers and other workers at the French state railway SNCF have begun a major strike that is expected to paralyse rail travel across France.

Staff began three months of rolling stoppages on Monday evening as trade unions push back against President Emmanuel Macron’s labour reforms.

It is expected to be the biggest wave of industrial unrest since Mr Macron’s election last May.

The waste collection, electricity and energy sectors also expect strikes.

On 22 March, tens of thousands of teachers, nurses and other workers joined rail staff on strike – a sign of widespread opposition to Mr Macron’s plans for state sector liberalisation.

What is the strike about?

SNCF workers enjoy generous conditions, including automatic annual pay rises, early retirement, 28 days of paid annual leave and protection from dismissal. Their close relatives are also entitled to free rail tickets.

The Macron government wants to phase out the special SNCF contracts, proposing to put new hires on contracts like those that apply elsewhere in industry.

The aim is to open up the state railways to competition from 2023, in line with EU requirements.

SNCF is struggling with big debts.