No Resolution in Sight for French Rail Strike
PARIS (AP) _ French trains continued operating at about one-fourth their regular schedule Saturday as the 10-day-old rail strike showed no sign of ending. The country’s largest union called for nationwide protests.
Management of the state-run railway system said it remained ready to discuss labor’s main demands - better working conditions and a higher pay scale - as soon as the workers return to work.
The unions continued to demand talks with no pre-conditions. The conservative government of Premier Jacques Chirac says salary increases must be limited to control inflation and increase employment.
Management invited the unions to a meeting Tuesday afternoon if the strikers ″prove their goodwill in beginning a return to work by Monday.″
Union reaction was negative.
The Communist-led General Confederation of Labor, France’s largest union, called on its members to demonstrate Tuesday in Paris and major provincial cities. The Socialist-led French Democratic Confederation of Labor was to vote Sunday on joining the demonstrations.
Meanwhile, merchant seamen and dockworkers continued their strike, keeping ship traffic in most major ports at a trickle. The maritime workers are protesting plans to let foreign sailors man some French ships.
The premier’s office said Chirac had canceled plans for a week’s vacation over the holidays and would remain in Paris. No reason was given.