It is being described as the biggest challenge yet against President Nicolas Sarkozy since he came to power six months ago. France is braced for travel chaos today as transport unions expand a nationwide strike against plans to scrap special pension packages for some in the public sector. Workers at the national train company SNCF stopped work last night and will today be joined by metro, bus and tram workers in Paris.
The leader of the powerful CGT union is calling for separate talks in each sector between the unions, the government and managers. This is seen as a key demand being softened; previously the union wanted talks to be centralised.
Another union leader said he still thought it was possible to find a compromise to unblock what he calls “an extremely difficult, extremely complicated subject”.
At the same-time as this open-ended strike in the transport sector, disputes with students and other public sector workers are brewing. The government says it remains determined.