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Friday, March 11, 2005

Just say no to Olympic Games Paris 2012

So here's the article from today's where they talk about yesterday's national strike day. It seems that "coincidently" the Olympic committee actually was in Paris yesterday surveying the city. Oh you silly French that's no way to win the games.

PARIS, France (AP) -- Planes, trains and metros were canceled, and postal workers and teachers stayed home in a nationwide day of defiance Thursday against government economic policies -- notably plans to let the French work longer hours.

For Paris, where commuters crammed aboard the few trains running, the timing was unfortunate. The strikes coincided with a visit by Olympic inspectors assessing the French capital's bid to host the 2012 Summer Games.

Tens of thousands of protesters marched through Paris, answering the call of unions for a massive turnout to defend France's 35-hour workweek and to push for more jobs and salary talks. Protests nationwide drew big crowds, including 35,000 people in Bordeaux and 25,000 in Marseille, police said.

Rush-hour road traffic snaked for kilometers (miles) outside the capital; many schools were shut; and French newspapers devoted their front pages to the mess. Conservative daily El Figaro carried the banner headline: "France Paralyzed."

Paris' commuter trains were badly hit by the strike which started after rush hour Wednesday and was to last until early Friday. Up to 80 percent of suburban lines were suspended.

The Paris Metro was severely disrupted, with two of the city's 14 subway lines not running at all. Most Paris buses, specially bedecked with flags to welcome the International Olympic Committee visitors, were running but service on a dozen lines was rerouted because of street demonstrations.

Nationwide, roughly half of high-speed TGV trains, the pride of France's rail network, and one in three slower Corail trains were running, the SNCF said.

Across France, 55 cities suffered various degrees of disruption, with the Riviera city of Nice crippled by a complete lack of bus service.

Strikes by air traffic controllers meant delays of up to several hours for some air travelers at the two main Paris airports, Charles de Gaulle and Orly, operator Aeroports de Paris said. Less than 20 percent of the controllers were off the job but enough to disable a critical control center south of Paris, Aeroports de Paris said.

Tuning-in to the latest news updates wasn't easy. Some all-news radio stations, including France Info and France-Inter, were disrupted by staff walkouts, forcing them to fill airtime with music.
France's postal service said 15 percent of its employees stayed home, while half the nation's teachers skipped class, according to the SNES trade union.

Europe-1 radio reported some 60 candidates were eliminated from a teachers' examination because they couldn't get to the suburban testing center on time.

In a sign that the street pressure was working, Civil Service Minister Renaud Dutreil announced plans to meet this month with unions and "without any taboos" attached to the talks.

Much discontent is over proposed reforms to France's welfare system and labor laws. France's conservative government, trying to control its deficit line with European Union limits, wants the French to contribute more to their health care and has trimmed the generosity of state pensions. Public sector workers oppose plans to reform the 35-hour workweek to allow more overtime.

The government is seeking to temper anger, mindful that a national referendum on the European Union constitution in May could turn into a vote against the government.

Francois Chereque, of the moderate CFDT union, said labor leaders have no intention of budging.
"The CFDT is very attached to the 35-hour workweek," he said. "We will defend it until the end."
Unions pledged not to disrupt the Olympic committee's visit and were working Thursday with Paris police to ensure that protesters and the IOC inspectors did not cross paths.

Trade unions have pledged support for Paris' bid and say the strike's timing was unrelated to the IOC tour Thursday of the Eiffel Tower and other proposed competition sites.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like the French have problems understanding that a good work ethic drives a good economy. Now, tell me again, why do they "dislike us"???? Do we care?

Anonymous said...

It's great how they have to clarify by writing "kilometers (miles)", I would think the people who don't know that a kilometer is a measure of distance probably aren't able to read this article in the first place....