French ticket collectors strike after attack
French railway ticket collectors went on a wildcat strike Thursday, severely disrupting services, after a colleague was stabbed by a passenger.
Bernard Mortelier, 54, was knifed eight times in the head, abdomen, side and arms, when he told a passenger who was travelling without a ticket that he would be penalised, the state rail operator SNCF said.
Mortelier was flown by helicopter to hospital and was "hovering between life and death," an SNCF spokesman said.
The attacker, travelling on a train between the cities of Lyon and Strasbourg, was "unbalanced," the SNCF said, adding that he was in police custody.
An investigation had been launched.
The man was not formally named but a source close to the case said he was a 27-year-old from the eastern city of Mulhouse who had been convicted four times for violence.
"In a spontaneous movement of solidarity with the attacked ticket collector," his colleagues in the east and southeast launched a strike, Michel Mann, a regional head of the influential CGT union told AFP.
The strike will continue until Friday afternoon and has hit services. Eighty percent of trains in the Alsace and Lorraine regions were cancelled.
SNCF chief Guillaume Pepy condemned what he termed an "odious act" and travelled to the hospital in the eastern city of Besancon where Mortelier was being treated.
© 2011 AFP