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France brace for crippling transport strike

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France brace for crippling transport strike

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French commuters face travel chaos again tonight when unions launch a rolling national strike over proposed changes to their pensions. Rail workers begin an indefinite stoppage at 8 pm CET, while staff who operate buses and metros in Paris are due to begin a walkout tomorrow.

The industrial action comes less than a month after unions brought public transport to a halt over government plans to reform the so-called “special regime” pension schemes which allow some workers in arduous jobs to retire early.

But President Nicolas Sarkozy insists he wont back down on the main tenets of his reforms because he claims the country can no longer afford it – and polls suggest most French people agree. Sarkozy’s also facing a challenge over government plans to allow universities to manage their own budgets.

Left-wing student unions have threatened to block train stations and join the rail workers protest.