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Power Blackout as French Workers Strike Over Labor Bill

Members of the CGT union at 16 of France's 19 nuclear plants, which provide the majority of the country's electricity, voted for a one-day strike Thursday
By The News · 02 of June 2016 08:40:07
A man walks over a platforms during a railway strike at the Gare du Nord train station, in Paris, No available, photo: AP/Markus Schreiber

Striking workers created blackouts by cutting power to a big electricity line in western France and occupied train tracks at a Paris railway hub Thursday as unions at nuclear plants and the national rail service protested the proposed abolition of some French labor protections.

Workers have sector-specific demands, but are also tapping into months of widespread anger at a government bill extending the 35-hour workweek and making it easier to hire and fire workers.

Members of the CGT union at 16 of France’s 19 nuclear plants, which provide the majority of the country’s electricity, voted for a one-day strike Thursday.

Nuclear plants are required to maintain a minimal level of production even during strikes for security reasons. But workers in Brittany cut the electricity supply from a power station in Saint-Malo-de-Guersac, prompting blackouts in at least 120,000 homes, according to the RTE electricity network.

Service was restored to most homes by early afternoon, said an RTE official who was not authorized to be publicly named according to company policy. He said no other incidents were reported linked to the strikes.

Protesters also briefly walked onto train tracks at the Gare de Lyon station in eastern Paris, according to LCI television. A union march through Paris was scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

Service on high-speed TGV trains and commuter trains was disrupted Thursday for a second day because of strikes by some union members. Some Paris public transport workers also joined the strike, although disruptions on subways and buses were minimal.

A woman rides a bicycle next to commuters waiting for a bus to Orly Airport during a railway strike in Paris. Photo: AP/Francois Mori

A woman rides a bicycle next to commuters waiting for a bus to Orly Airport during a railway strike in Paris.
Photo: AP/Francois Mori