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Thread: France gripped by massive strike

  1. #1
    Supertall Skyscraper Member psukhu's Avatar
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    France gripped by massive strike

    France gripped by massive strike

    Hundreds of thousands of civil servants have joined striking transport and energy workers as France is paralysed by a second week of industrial action.

    Teachers, postal workers, air traffic controllers and hospital staff are holding a 24-hour stoppage over planned job cuts and higher wage demands.

    Students are continuing to demonstrate over university funding plans.

    Many thousands joined street protests in Paris, Rouen, Strasbourg, Marseille, Grenoble, Lyon and other cities.

    It could end up as the biggest show of defiance at President Nicolas Sarkozy's reform plans since his election in May.

    The latest nationwide stoppage left many schools closed, hospitals providing a reduced service and newsagents without newspapers.

    more at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7102890.stm

  2. #2
    Supertall Skyscraper Member psukhu's Avatar
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    Does anyone know if things are back to normal in Paris regarding the strike?

    I have a connecting flight through CDG next week and I'm wondering if I should change my flight. Thanks.

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    My friend came in to CDG yesterday. Lots of traffic and a long time for him to get in to my apartment, but his flight landed without issue. A group of students from AUP also left late last night on a study trip to Madrid with no problem -- and the air traffic controllers/Air France strike was supposed to begin yesterday morning, so I think some compromise must have been reached for them.

    The Metro strike is getting mildly better each day, and today RATP.fr (the equivalent of dart.org) says that almost every line is running normal, or close enough to normal.
    Times weighs down on you like an old, ambiguous dream. You keep on moving, trying to slip through it. But even if you go to the ends of the earth, you won't be able to escape it.
    Haruki Murakami

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    Super Moderator Tnekster's Avatar
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    Collapse of Rail, Subway Strike Is a First Success for Sarkozy

    BY NICHOLAS WAPSHOTT - Staff Reporter of the Sun
    November 23, 2007
    URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/66884

    President Sarkozy of France is on the verge of a breakthrough in his ambitious plan to wean his country off the restrictive working practices he believes stand in the way of national prosperity.

    Yesterday, the strike of rail and subway workers that has crippled France for nine days was clearly crumbling, as workers began returning to work in large numbers and union branches conceded that support for the dispute is collapsing.

    "We think a dynamic of return to work has begun," Julie Vion, a spokeswoman for France's state-owned railroad network, SNCF, said.

    Union leaders began to concede defeat yesterday. "We have to face reality. Since yesterday's negotiations, things have changed. The strike is no longer the solution. The strike strategy is no longer winning," a leader of the Sud union representing Paris underground railway workers, Philippe Touzet, said in an interview with Bloomberg News.

    The collapse of support for the strike by individual rail workers marks the first success in what Mr. Sarkozy considers the key goal of his presidency, the abandonment of expensive entitlements and special conditions for public sector workers, including generous early retirement and pension benefits for half a million rail workers, which he believes make France uncompetitive.

    Managers for SNCF announced yesterday that 42 out of 45 rail union committees have voted to abandon the national strike that has frozen the country's economy, and will return to work without delay.

    SNCF said 540 out of 700 of their high-speed TGV trains were running normally yesterday. They predicted rail services would continue to improve Friday and would be almost back to normal by Saturday.

    Top executives for RATP, the Paris metro subway system, said they expected 70% of trains on most lines, 75% of buses, and 80% of trams to be running as normal Friday.

    Rail union leaders conceded that their members "should be heading towards a return to work," but suggested that other forms of industrial action may take the place of strikes.

    "According to initial returns from the general assemblies, it should be heading towards a return to work. We're heading towards a suspension" of the strike, a member of the powerful CGT union, Daniel Tourlan, said in Marseilles yesterday.

    He threatened other forms of protest rather than the strike, which crippled the nation's centralized transport system. "It's only the form of action that's changing. The determination of the rail workers is intact," he said.

    Mr. Sarkozy has kept aloof from the negotiations between rail network managers and the unions and has largely refrained from commenting on the strike, which has proved enormously unpopular with French commuters.

    His solitary intervention was to condemn sabotage to the high-speed railroad, urging that the culprits who damaged rails and electrical connections, thereby endangering passenger safety, be punished with "extreme severity."

    Instead, the president has left Prime Minister Fillon to front his government's efforts to bring the strike to a swift end while offering the prospect in negotiations of compensation for some of the rail workers' lost privileges.

    On the table are salary increases and a top-up scheme for pensions to replace job security and retirement for workers as young as 50, instead of the nationwide standard of 65. Under the proposed reforms, workers would have to work for 40 years to qualify for full pensions, compared with 37.5 years now. Negotiations will resume Monday.

    Mr. Fillon praised the "responsible attitude of the principle unions" at a meeting of French mayors yesterday and welcomed the "patience" of the French people. Finance Minister Christine Lagarde puts the cost of the dispute at $594 million a day in lost business.

    The collapse of the strike "looks like a victory for the government and a green light for more structural reforms in France," an economist at BNP-Paribas in Paris, Dominique Barbet, told Bloomberg in an e-mail.

    However, the new pay and conditions for rail workers proposed by the government may be more than anticipated when they are fully disclosed at the end of negotiations expected to be completed by December 18.

    When the rail strike is settled, Mr. Sarkozy must confront widespread opposition to his education reforms, where he has passed laws offering more autonomy to educational institutions to improve tuition standards and increase the amount of private funding in colleges.

    The proposals have been welcomed with strikes and protests by France's students, who have historically played an important part in national opposition to government policies.

    Forty-four out of France's 82 universities were disrupted by student protests yesterday and seven were shut down. About 2,600 students from the University of the Sorbonne in Paris, the cauldron of student protest since the national strike of workers and students in 1968, and others marched in the streets yesterday.

  5. #5
    Incoherent Rambler grantboston's Avatar
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    Looks like we Londoners may face a similar action:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7109535.stm


    Airport staff to vote on strike

    Thousands of workers at British airports including Gatwick and Heathrow are to vote on strike action in the next few weeks.

    BAA staff are to be balloted on strike action in protest at a plan to stop new staff joining the final salary scheme from 1 December.

    A strike could see BAA airports closed from 27 December, leading to chaos during the New Year travel period.

    The ballot will take place from 29 November.

    "It is clear that the pension scheme is financially sound and should be left alone," said union officer Brendan Gold.

    Contingency plan

    A spokesman for BAA said that the company "regrets the union's threat of industrial action, particularly in the Christmas period.

    "We believe the way to resolve this is through negotiation," he said.

    Low-cost airline Easyjet said it would be speaking to BAA "to ensure contingency measures are in place to ensure our operations are not affected in the event this goes ahead".

    Budget airline Ryanair expects BAA to have "an appropriate contingency plan in place" in the event of a strike.

    "This [the strike] is entirely a matter for the BAA," a Ryanair spokesman added.

    Virgin urged both sides to work hard to resolve the dispute so that passengers did not face industrial action at such a busy time of the year.

    Closure threat

    Unite union represents 5,000 airport workers employed by British Airports Authority.

    They include firefighters, security, maintenance and administration staff at airports from Aberdeen to Southampton, including some of the UK's busiest - Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick.

    Virtually all firefighters at BAA airports are union members, the union said.

    A strike by firefighters could see airports close, the union said.

  6. #6
    Supertall Skyscraper Member psukhu's Avatar
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    Riots

    msutton,

    I'm wrapping up the week early, so I decided to stay a day or two during my layover in Paris, but there now appears to be riots. I'll be staying near the Louvre, is it safe to come? (I'll take a taxi to an from CDG)


    Nearly 80 French police officers have been injured, six seriously, during a second night of riots by youths in the suburbs of Paris, police unions say:


    More at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7114175.stm

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    psukhu, should be perfectly safe. I've not seen any riots personally, nor heard directly of anyone being affected by them (though in the last days of the metro strike, a friend of mine supposedly saw a large group of students jump into the tracks at a station to try and completely shut the line down. So stupid. But she said there wasn't an violence: just a bunch of idiots and a bunch of very annoyed regular people). If that blurb is right, about most of the trouble being in the suburbs, then the area around the Louvre especially should be problem free.

    I wouldn't worry, but I'll keep my ears open for you.
    Times weighs down on you like an old, ambiguous dream. You keep on moving, trying to slip through it. But even if you go to the ends of the earth, you won't be able to escape it.
    Haruki Murakami

  8. #8
    Supertall Skyscraper Member psukhu's Avatar
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    ^
    No problems this weekend at all with this stuff. Thanks for the info.

    Bizen on Rue Reaumur was off the hook last night.

  9. #9
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    Thanks for the tip, I'll have to check it out in my last few weeks here. Glad to hear it went well.
    Times weighs down on you like an old, ambiguous dream. You keep on moving, trying to slip through it. But even if you go to the ends of the earth, you won't be able to escape it.
    Haruki Murakami

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