French Rail Strike Action Continues

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Striking French transport workers marching in Lourdes yesterday
Striking French transport workers marching in Lourdes yesterday

French transport unions yesterday extended their nationwide strike for another 24 hours, after bringing the train, bus and metro services to a halt on Thursday.

France’s transport system was shut down by the 24-hour strike called in response to the Sarkozy government’s attack on pension rights.

The eight unions of the rail company SNCF, the six unions in public transport and the five union federations of the gas and electricity industry, took united strike action yesterday to defend their threatened pension rights.

Bernard Thibault, leader of the main union, the General Labour Confederation (CGT) warned more strikes would follow.

The SUD union and Force Ouvrière called for continuing the action, while the CGT-Cheminots (railworkers) have given twenty five local warnings to the employer of an unlimited strike starting yesterday.

Trade unions held protests in dozens of towns and cities throughout the country yesterday.

Workers from several other unions also joined the strike as they realise that all pension rights are on Sarkozy’s ‘reform’ menu and that the announced ‘modernisation’ of the economy threatens privatisation all-round.

Meanwhile, the medical students’ action continues to grow with an unlimited strike now taking place in twenty seven teaching hospitals.

The CGT’s Thibault said that workers are ‘fed up with being constantly portrayed as privileged or in some way guilty on the issue of pensions’.

Blaming the government’s intransigence, he said: ‘The people who decided to go on strike did so because they had no choice.

‘The government never created the conditions for dialogue, for negotiation, for setting out the future of their pensions.’

Unions are due to meet on Monday to decide on whether to stage more strikes.