BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Europe
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 

Thursday, 5 April, 2001, 18:09 GMT 19:09 UK
France crippled by rail strike
Saint Lazare station Paris
Stranded: two-thirds of trains were cancelled
More than a week of disruption on French railways has culminated in a 24-hour nationwide strike which has left commuters stranded and roads jammed with traffic.

France has already seen a series of lightning strikes but on Thursday all five rail workers' unions called a simultaneous strike to coincide with a meeting between workers and management.

The talks have been put on hold as unions consult their members over a management offer of pay increases and a pause in a modernisation plan.

But one union has already rejected the proposal and says it is set to continue its strike on Friday.

Privatisation fears

"Travellers are being treated like cattle and public service is being destroyed in France," said one commuter, stuck at the Saint Lazare station in Paris.

Only one in three regional trains were running and three-quarters of the Eurostar trains between Paris and London were cancelled.

The route to Brussels was better covered with half of the trains running there.

Travellers took to the roads instead, causing long tailbacks - 40km jams were reported on the Paris ring road.

The unions are calling for pay rises, a recruitment drive and the scrapping of a restructuring programme, which they say would privatise part of the rail system.

The head of the rail company, SNCF, offered an immediate pay increase of 0.7% with an additional 0.5% later in the year as well as a pause in the restructuring.

SNCF President Louis Gallois said that was the company's limit. He rejected claims that the restructuring was a form of privatisation or that it would harm workers.

But the FGAAC union, which represents most train drivers said it rejected the pay offer, though two other unions welcomed the management's proposal.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

27 Mar 01 | Europe
Europe's rail safety questioned
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories