Source Pravda.Ru

Railroad strike upsets train service around France, causing rush-hour havoc

A strike by four railway federations disrupted train service Thursday across France, wreaking havoc for rush-hour commuters and delaying many long-distance travelers.

Only 60 percent of France's fast trains were running, but there was little or no effect on international lines, including the Eurostar train to London, said the train authority, the SNCF.

The strike, which began at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT) Wednesday and was to end Friday at 8 a.m. (0600 GMT), cut deeply into Paris' suburban train traffic, with far fewer than the usual trains in operation. Commuters were forced to wait it out - or go home.

Railroad workers called the strike to demand better pay and jobs and defend the public service and the right to strike. It marked the first labor trouble for France's new prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, who was appointed Tuesday. He said his No. 1 priority is reducing the 10 percent unemployment rate and is looking for cooperation from unions and employers alike.

Associated Press

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