Two French rail unions announce new strike
( AFP ) - Two French rail unions, including the biggest, on Saturday announced a new nationwide 24-hour strike next week to push for more concessions in ongoing talks over pension reform.
A spokesman for the General Labour Confederation (CGT), the largest union representing workers at the French state rail company SNCF, said the grass-roots momentum for a new strike could not be resisted.
The strike from 1900 GMT Wednesday to 1900 GMT Thursday will follow on from a similar 24-hour walkout for the previous day called by the CGT on the Paris transport system of metro trains, buses and trams known as the RATP.
The SNCF and labour ministry voiced incredulity at the strike threat, with SNCF chief executive Anne-Marie Idrac telling France Info radio that "it will be a strike for nothing."
The strike call was issued by the CGT and the smaller CFE-CGC white-collar staff union after a meeting of all six SNCF unions failed to reach a consensus on when and what form their industrial action should take.
Another union present at the meeting for instance, the CFTC- cheminots , called instead for an open-ended strike from 1900 GMT on December 19, the day before talks between the unions, SNCF management and government representatives are due to conclude.
President Nicolas Sarkozy's plan to end favourable pension terms enjoyed by some professions including rail workers sparked a crippling 10-day national transport strike last month.
The separate talks between the unions and management of the SNCF and the RATP on compensatory measures to accompany the pension reforms have been going on since November 21.
Earlier this week SNCF said the talks were taking place in a "constructive and serious atmosphere."
The CGT said Saturday that "not inconsiderable progess " had been made in the talks but that "deep disagreements" still remained.