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France suffers fresh strike chaos
June 10, 2003
commuters found alternative ways to travel.
hardline trade unions aimed to bring the country to a halt, on the day the
government put its pension reform plans before parliament.
problems spread to road, rail and air travellers, and gridlock was
reported in some towns and cities.
trains at Paris' Gare du Nord station were delayed when strikers lit
flaming torches on the track, producing clouds of billowing smoke.
the roads, lengthy traffic jams were reported around Paris, and national
rail company SNCF said two out of three trains were not running.
to the south-western city of Toulouse were reportedly blocked by
Nice and Lyon were also hit.
that did run were packed.
Marseille in the south, transport services were badly hit, and rubbish
continued to pile up in the streets as refuse workers continued industrial
on the Eurostar cross-Channel train were not expected to be hit.
French flights were running normally from Paris' Roissy-Charles de Gaulle
airport. But at the city's second airport, Orly, about 100 flights were
cancelled, and passengers faced delays of up to 90 minutes.
striking workers include police and customs officers, health care
providers, dockers, post and telecommunications workers, bank staff, lorry
drivers and workers in the chemical and metallurgical industries.
of workers were expected to gather in protest rallies in Paris and other
towns and cities.
and tourists alike were caught up in the chaos in Paris.
fed up with this strike," said German tourist Kirsten Paffratch.
"We came to Paris for a long weekend and with the metro down we've
had to walk everywhere. It's been very annoying."
France's 800,000 teachers, it will be the 11th strike since the start of
the school year.
They are angry about
restructuring plans as well about the pension reforms.
Rubbish is piling up in Marseille.
teachers have threatened to boycott the crucial end-of-school exam, the
baccalaureat, which is supposed to start on Thursday.
centre-right government of Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin insists the
pension reforms are necessary to fund the growing level of French
wants public sector workers to work longer to qualify for full pensions.
Raffarin launched the parliamentary debate on the reforms with a speech on
would be irresponsible to hide our heads in the sand like an
ostrich," he said.
is lack of action which is putting the pension system in danger. Our
reform will save it."
President Jacques Chirac has also insisted the reforms are needed.