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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 November 2007, 14:48 GMT
In pictures: French rail 'sabotage'

French rail workers repair damaged tracks and cables on the high-speed TGV line near Varredes, in eastern Paris

On the eighth day of a transport strike in France, the state-owned rail operator, SNCF, has accused militant unionists of conducting a "concerted campaign of sabotage".

Fire-damaged cables on the high-speed TGV line near Varredes, in eastern Paris

An SNCF statement said there had been several simultaneous incidents, including a number of fires, aimed at stopping the resumption of services on the high-speed network.

Travellers look at an electronic board at the Montparnasse train station in Paris reporting "sabotage"

The incidents have been condemned by both the government and union officials. President Nicolas Sarkozy said the saboteurs would be severely punished.

Gerard Leboeuf (left), the general secretary of the CGT union for the state metro operator, RATP, and his deputy, Jacques Eliez (second left), attend a meeting with government representatives in Paris

Talks have now begun between most of the main rail unions, managers and government officials to end the strike which is over proposed changes to the pension system.

Striking railway workers raise their fists in a vote to continue striking at the maintenance depot in Lille, northern France

The French government last tried to overhaul "special" pensions in 1995. The move sparked three weeks of strikes that forced then-President Jacques Chirac to climb down.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy (20 November 2007)

On Tuesday, Mr Sarkozy said in a speech that the economic reforms were overdue and necessary "to confront the challenges set by the world".

Rail workers strike demonstrating in Paris carrying a banner saying: "Think about us Sarko... not your friends!"

Before the latest incidents, the SNCF had estimated there would be slightly improved rail services on Wednesday as the number of strikers steadily declined.

Commuters at the Saint-Lazare station in Paris

The strikes have caused havoc for millions of commuters across France. Businesses have started complaining that the strikes are hurting their operations.



SEE ALSO
French trains 'hit by sabotage'
21 Nov 07 |  Europe



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