Los Angeles 10/12/2010 8:41:06 PM
Strikes Disrupt Rail And Air Travel In France
The standoff between the government and unions in France over planned changes to pension system became more tense as energy and transport workers, civil servants and teachers observed strike all over the country on Tuesday.
Union in several industries, including ports, power and transport, have hardened their stance and are threatening to continue the strikes for as long as required. They are also calling for another day of protests on Saturday.
S.N.F.C, France's national train operator, said on Tuesday that intercity rail services to Paris were only operating at one-third of their regular frequency, whereas rural trains were disrupted more seriously.
The Eurostar rail service to London was normal, while trains to Germany and Belgium were running at only two-thirds of their regular schedules.
The RER train service into Paris was running at below 50%, while the Paris bus system and subway also experienced disruptions.
Airports, on the other hand, have predicted severe disruptions to flights since Air France employees and air traffic controllers also went on strike. At Beauvais and Roissy Charles de Gaulle airports, about 30% of flights are expected to be canceled, and around 50% at Orly airport. Long-haul flights, however, are expected to follow their regular schedule.
Unions at refineries, the chemical industry, ports and representing communication and postal workers, civil servants and teachers have joined the walkout.
France's lower house of parliament had backed a proposal to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 last month.