France's parliament approves rail bill amid rolling strikes

PARIS — France's parliament has voted through a bill that aims to prepare the national rail company for competition and which has prompted months-long rolling strikes.

The Senate approved the bill Thursday, one day after the National Assembly passed it.

The plan notably ends newly-hired employees' right to retain jobs and benefits for life.

The government has agreed to take on 35 billion euros ($40.8 billion) in debt from the rail company, SNCF, out of its total debt of 50 billion euros ($58 billion) to meet one of unions' demands.

Transport minister Elisabeth Borne said the vote opens "a new chapter" in French rail service.

Unions have decided to maintain rolling strikes through June to protest against the changes.

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