Law on running trains during strikes 'in place by year-end'

28th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 28, 2007 (AFP) - A new law ensuring French trains keep running during strikes will be in place by the end of this year, France's newly appointed employment minister said Monday.

PARIS, May 28, 2007 (AFP) - A new law ensuring French trains keep running during strikes will be in place by the end of this year, France's newly appointed employment minister said Monday.

The minimum services bill aimed at curbing trade unions' ability to disrupt public transport is widely seen as a key first test of President Nicolas Sarkozy's reform programme.

Asked in a radio interview whether there will be guaranteed minimum services at the state-owned SNCF rail company by January 1, 2008, Employment Minister Xavier Bertrand answered: "Of course."

"Simply because the French people need and long for this minimum service."

"This will not challenge the right to strike which is a constitutional right," said Bertrand.

"But there is also the right to work.  We must respect the French people who need public transport to get to work and ensure that there are minimum services."

Sarkozy, who took over from Jacques Chirac almost earlier this month, moved quickly to open talks with the unions on the bill and has said that it will be submitted to parliament probably this summer.

But union leaders said Friday that Sarkozy has agreed to adopt a bill that will allow for negotiation on ensuring train services during strikes.

Frequent train and metro strikes in France, in particular in Paris, have caused disruption over the years, but the number of work stoppages has dropped over the past 15 years.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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