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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 June, 2004, 16:03 GMT 17:03 UK
French power workers stage strike
People have dumped old electricity meters in protest
People are dumping old electricity meters in protest
A wave of strikes affecting electricity and gas supplies in France has passed its peak, the government has claimed.

Staff at state owned supplier EdF are in the middle of a twenty four hour national stoppage in protest at plans to part privatise the business.

However, finance minister Nicolas Sarkozy said only 3% of Edf's 150,000 staff were involved and that the worst of the demonstrations were now over.

Workers today sought to cut EdF's daily capacity by 12% of its normal output.

The walkout, accompanied by a rally in Paris, follows a series of regional stoppages in which the homes of leading politicians were targeted.

Job fears

The French parliament is debating a draft proposal to change EdF's status.

This would see Europe's largest power supplier and sister company Gaz de France transformed into limited liability firms, a key step to privatisation.

The French government ultimately wants to sell off a 30% stake in EdF to fund what it sees as an urgently needed investment in the electricity network.

Unions, which fear that privatisation will lead to widespread job losses, staged their first national strike on 15 June. The action reduced production by up to 15,000 MW of EdF's 100,000 MW capacity.

EdF's interests in Britain
London Energy(formerly London Electricity)
Seeboard Energy
SWEB Energy(formerly the South West Electricity Board)

A series of regional strikes in the past week have cut up to 6,000 MW from France's national grid.

Areas of Bordeaux and Grenoble were plunged into darkness by the action while power supplies were cut to the country residence of Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin and to the homes of other ministers.

Workers also targeted five nuclear power stations owned by EdF and national landmarks including the Champs Elysees and the Eiffel Tower.

Unions have said that strike action could continue until the middle of July.




SEE ALSO:
France starts privatisation plan
18 Jun 04  |  Business
Strike hits French nuclear plants
16 Jun 04  |  Business
French power strikers target PM
15 Jun 04  |  Business


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