By James Tweedie:
Friday 3rd June 2016
SOME 120,000 homes in western France were hit by a blackout yesterday during strikes at 16 of the country’s 19 nuclear power plants.
Members of the CGT union voted for a one-day walkout at the power stations, which generate most of France’s electricity, in anger at the El Khomri labour law which weakens workers’ rights.
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.
Power was restored to most homes by the afternoon, with no other incidents reported.
Meanwhile, striking rail workers blocked tracks at the Gare de Lyon station in eastern Paris ahead of a protest march through the capital.
Around half of all long-distance services were cancelled and some Paris public transport workers also walked out in solidarity.
Irish budget airline Ryanair cancelled 75 flights to or over France in response to a strike by air traffic controllers, although further action at the weekend has been called off.
British holidaymakers were left stranded and forced to shell out for alternative flights home by the firm’s decision.
But the union-busting airline blamed the strikers, urging people to sign a petition calling on the European Commission to introduce measures such as forcing air traffic control unions into arbitration to resolve their claims and requiring that flights over France be protected.
The legislation being forced through by France’s Socialist Party government in the face of parliamentary opposition ends nationwide collective bargaining rights and pushes up the working-time limit from 35 to 46 hours a week.
“Instead of supporting its citizens by investing in public goods and services and in the future of the younger generation, they’ve instead kowtowed to the banks and corporations seeking more profits and paying less taxes,” she said.
The strikes against the reactionary labour law of the Socialist Party government of President Hollande have triggered two very different reactions in Germany: on the one hand, support and sympathy among workers and youth; on the other, horror, anger, anti-communist attacks and anti-French tirades by the mainstream media: here.