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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 January, 2004, 12:01 GMT
Strike hits French rail commuters
Paris railway station
Many commuters were stranded as services were hit
A strike by railway workers in France has brought disruption to commuter train services around Paris.

High speed train services and the Eurostar link between London and Paris have been less severely affected.

The action, over a pay offer and planned job cuts, began at 1900GMT on Tuesday and is set to continue until 0700GMT on Thursday.

Rush-hour traffic jams clogged up roads leading into Paris as commuters used their cars instead of the bus or Metro.

Political analysts say the strikes are more of a warning to the government than a major irritant but they do come two months before regional elections.

Train services between Paris and the suburbs were the hardest hit.

'Against workers'

In some parts just one in 10 trains were running.

Rail operator SNCF said it expected the high-speed TGV services linking major cities to be down by a third due to strike action.

One commuter said the strike was "very upsetting".

"I truly think, with all my respect for the unions, that to create problems like this for the people who want to work is very, very bad," he said. "It is an act against the other workers."

He added: "This is the only country in modern Europe not to guarantee basic services."

Unions at SNCF, which employs 180,000 people, want a pay rise of up to six percent and are angered by company plans to cut 3,500 jobs this year.

The strike is due to be followed on Thursday by a 24-hour stoppage by health workers and doctors' unions over working conditions and staff shortages.

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