Thousands march in France against privatisation

12th September 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 12, 2006 (AFP) - Thousands of gas and electricity workers took part in demonstrations across France Tuesday against a government bill currently being debated in parliament to privatise the state-owned Gaz de France (GDF).

PARIS, Sept 12, 2006 (AFP) - Thousands of gas and electricity workers took part in demonstrations across France Tuesday against a government bill currently being debated in parliament to privatise the state-owned Gaz de France (GDF).

Around 20 percent of workers at GDF stopped work for the day, alongside 16.5 percent of workers for the electricity provider EDF, management said.

Electricity and gas supplies to the home of government spokesman Jean-François Copé were cut off as part of the protest, unions said.

The government is proposing to reduce the state holding in GDF to 34 percent in order to facilitate the company's planned merger with the French energy group Suez.

However the measure is opposed by the left-wing opposition, which has tabled a record 130,000 amendments in a bid to stall the bill's passage through the National Assembly.

According to an opinion poll for Les Echos newspaper Tuesday, only 12 percent of the public support GDF's privatisation. Some 38 percent are totally opposed and 43 percent would be in favour if the state remained a majority share-holder.

The ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) has itself been divided over the proposed sell-off, and among the demonstrators in Paris Tuesday was UMP deputy Nicolas Dupont-Aignan.

Gas and electricity workers were also angered by UMP proposals published in a newspaper Tuesday to reform the pension system by ending the early retirement provisions available for EDF and GDF staff as well as some other state employees.

The proposals were set out by former minister François Fillon, an adviser to UMP presidential hopeful Nicolas Sarkozy.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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