The 20 trade unionists from Norway, Japan, the UK, Spain, Hungary and Belgium met with members of France's CGT federation railways section in Paris on 8 February. Laurent Brun, the newly-elected general secretary of the CGT rail section, addressed the meeting and Øystein Aslaksen chair of the ITF railways section, also took part.
Laurent Brun told the delegates: "The French government has failed to reduce the huge debt in the railway system. It has already reduced the French rail network and is now trying to create an open market and reduce workers' social protections as a solution to the debt. We believe that the government intends to fully privatise the SNCF and create a new economic model.
"The CGT can and will mobilise public service rail workers to protest against the government's plans. We welcome the solidarity and support of the ITF's family of railway unions."
Since France's freight market was opened up in May 2006, freight traffic has fallen by 30 percent. In 2006 the SNCF carried 40 billion tonne-kilometres (t.km) - by 2017 the 15 rail companies between them carried only 28 billion t.km. This accounted for 10 percent of the overall freight market in France, down from 20 percent in 2000.
Mr Aslaksen commented that the ITF stood by the CGT and its members, as part of its campaign for public transport based on public ownership, public investment, secure jobs and union rights for workers.
Next month the CGT will distribute 500,000 copies of a free newspaper to metro passengers across France to alert them to the planned reforms. It is also organising a national public demonstration on 22 March, after bad weather forced the cancellation of the one planned for 8 February.