France Braces for Another Major Transportation Strike

PARIS — France is bracing for its second major transportation strike in a month, beginning Tuesday evening. From Paris, Lisa Bryant reports – although most French do not support the strike – it reflects wider discontent against reforms proposed by the country’s conservative government.

The strike is expected to paralyze public transportation service, across the country, and may last until the week’s end. The strikers oppose government plans to scrap special pension benefits for a small percentage of workers.

But unions see the walkout also as a way to flex their muscles and many see it as a major test to French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s vows to push through wide-ranging reforms.

The strike comes less than a month after a similar October walkout brought public transportation to a halt. Again, busses, subways and trains will be functioning only sporadically — if at all. International train service is also expected to be effected.
The French government has called for talks, rather than strikes – an appeal aired once again by government spokesman Yves Jego.

In an interview on France-Info radio, Jego called for negotiations with unions. However,  he says the government will not back down on reforms it vowed it would push through.
The strikes recall similar unrest in 1995, against proposed government reforms former French President Jacques Chirac eventually repealed.

This time, some 55 percent of French are against the strike, according to a a new survey by France’s BVA polling institute.

— Voice of America

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