President Nicoloas Sarkozy faces rail strike
20 September 2007, PARIS (AFP) - French trade unions called a rail strike on Wednesday to protest plans to reform public sector pension benefits, in the first major show of union power since the election of President Nicolas Sarkozy in May.
20 September 2007
PARIS (AFP) - French trade unions called a rail strike on Wednesday to protest plans to reform public sector pension benefits, in the first major show of union power since the election of President Nicolas Sarkozy in May.
The call by five unions for strikes on October 17 has echoes of 1995, when striking rail workers crippled the country in a protest about pension reform.
Sarkozy said this week that he wanted his government "to reform without delay" the special benefits for public sector workers.
He promised that the so-called "special regimes" -- which allow state rail and power employees and some other categories of worker to retire early and on higher pensions -- would be reformed in the next "few months."
"Railway workers' unions CGT, FO, CFTC, Sud Rail and the CGC have decided to call railway workers to strike on October 17 to act and influence the future of the special pension regime (of the SNCF), the situation for freight and employment," said an official from the hard-left CGT union.
Other trade unions -- including the union for onboard train staff, Fgaac -- are to decide at a later date whether to join the action, the official from the CGT, Didier Le Reste, said after a meeting.
Le Reste said unions would decide on the details of the strike later, saying it could be for 24 hours or be on a renewable basis.
Asked whether the latest action could be a repeat of the 1995 strikes against the proposed reforms of the Juppe government, he replied: "1995 was 1995. History never repeats itself in exactly the same way, but there are nevertheless a lot of areas of dissatisfaction and unhappiness."
Subject: French news