Train staffer rape triggers French rail strikes

26th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 27 (AFP) - France's train services were disrupted for a second day running Thursday as rail workers protested the rape of a woman ticket inspector this week that they said highlighted rising violence in carriages and stations.

PARIS, Jan 27 (AFP) - France's train services were disrupted for a second day running Thursday as rail workers protested the rape of a woman ticket inspector this week that they said highlighted rising violence in carriages and stations.

Unions called the snap stoppage late Wednesday, one day after the 31-year-old employee was raped on a train going between the cities of Toulouse and Cahors in the south of the country.

A 24-year-old passenger on the train who has a criminal record was arrested hours after the assault following a detailed description given by the victim.

He remained in custody and was to be arraigned in court late Thursday.

The stoppage left millions of commuters across two-thirds of France struggling to get aboard the few trains running late Wednesday. Many skipped going to work Thursday.

In several areas of the country, around three out of four express, regional and suburban services were cancelled.

The state rail company SNCF said trains in many regions were gradually getting back to normal schedules Thursday and that all Paris and Eurostar services to and from London were unaffected.

"Few trains" were operating in the region around the northern city of Lille, however, it added.

The company said the rape of one of its employees on a train was unprecedented and it expressed sympathy for the assaulted woman but urged workers to resume services.

Ticket inspectors in the Toulouse region voted unanimously to carry their strike into Friday in support of their colleague.

Most of southwestern France, part of eastern France and the Riviera continued to be badly affected, especially on non-express lines.

Unions warned disruptions could continue if SNCF management did not review security measures for staff, notably by ensuring that ticket inspectors only worked in pairs.

They said that points agreed with the management Wednesday - including the hiring of 100 security training personnel - were "insufficient".

The proffered solutions "don't solve the fundamental problem at all," one train drivers' union, the FGAAC, said, calling for more security officers to be employed.

The opposition Socialist party called for a round-table discussion on rail workers' security, saying the strike over the rape was "completely understandable".

© AFP

Subject: French News

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