Railway worker strike disrupts French network

8th November 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 8, 2006 (AFP) - A strike by railway workers caused disruption to the French train network Wednesday, with only around half of suburban commuter services into Paris running as normal.

PARIS, Nov 8, 2006 (AFP) - A strike by railway workers caused disruption to the French train network Wednesday, with only around half of suburban commuter services into Paris running as normal.

Across the country disturbances were in line with predictions from the management of state-owned SNCF, with two out of three TGV high-speed trains operating and one out of three regional trains.

Eurostar trains to London were running normally.

Called by six rail unions, the stoppage started late Tuesday and was to end at 8.00 a.m. (0700 GMT) Thursday.

Unions say the strike is to demand investment in the SNCF's ailing freight sector, and to pressurise management on salaries and jobs.

The head of the CGT rail union Didier Le Reste warned that more strikes could follow.

"If during the day we get no clear answers from the company on the various issues, or commitments to start negotiations, we'll take the necessary steps to continue the movement," he said.

It was the first strike for SNCF's new chief executive Anne-Marie Idrac, who took over in July.

Idrac, who was secretary of state for transport during a crippling series of rail strikes in 1996, infuriated unions last month when she compared industrial relations in the company to the Cold War era.

Segolene Royal, leading socialist contender in next year's presidential elections, said that the SNCF management was to blame for the strike.

"It is unacceptable that the management did not negotiate earlier ... It is the management that is responsible," she said.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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