horz line

Mardi Noir

photo, cafe terrace, bastill, nuit blanche

Bastille café early during Nuit Blanche.

And the Other Strike

Paris:– Monday, 3. October 2005:– The big strike of the rentrée started tonight and will continue through tomorrow and will taper off on Thursday. While it is impossible to say exactly what will be affected, the advance warnings cover just about all sectors of activity.

This means Métro, buses, the RER, suburban trains and trains throughout France, plus air controllers. Teachers, sailors, nurses, the post office, maybe some bank staff, maybe everybody except right–wing members of the government – are expected to be on strike tomorrow.

All unions are taking part. Le Parisien's headline today is Mardi Noir in solid back letters. Thephoto, brazil, nuit blanche, les halles unions, which have the organizing ability, are hoping that a million workers will take part in the national work stoppage, involving 144 manifestations around France.

The Brazilian stage at Les Halles.

Just the same, a massive strike does not mean a total strike. Public transport in Paris is expected to be running two trains out of three for the Métro but on some lines it will only be one train out of four. Two out of three buses in circulation are also expected.

On the SNCF train lines about 60 percent of the regular traffic may be expected, but certain lines will have lesser frequencies. One Eurostar train may be dropped from the schedule. Other lines will have frequency rates ranging from 25 to 60 percent.

The unitary march of dissatisfied workers and the unemployed in Paris is slated to begin at République at 14:30. The course of the parade will be to Bastille and then on the Nation, by way of the Gare de Lyon.

Private sector workers are expected to join the public sector workers in the mass walkout tomorrow. It is not only civil servants who have had minimal pay increases for the past five or six years.

Meanwhile, last week labor problems bubbled over with the SNCM ferry service, between Marseille and Corsica. As of today this conflict is on 'hold' while everybody goes on strike. The STC union has said they are ready to resume on Wednesday if the government hasn't anything new to offer by then.

The items below are dated from latest to earliest. Reading from the bottom up will give you the events day&ndash:by–day.

Is Corsica French?

Friday, September 30:– If you were thinking that the recapture of the SNCM ferry by government GIGN commandos put an end to the labor conflict, you are obviously unaware of Corsican attitudes. In Toulon late Wednesday, military authorities released 30 members of the Syndicat des Travailleurs Corses – STC – and kept four in custody. Shortly afterwards union sympathizers battled with police in Bastia, on Corsica.

On Thursday morning in Paris prime minister Dominique de Villepin announced yet another new ownership montage for the troubled ferry line, proposing 70 percent private ownership, 25 percent for the state and 5 percent for the employees. This was rejected by the general secretary of the CGT marine unit in Marseille, Jean–Paul Israël, and the union continued its strike against the SNCM ferries.

Then the national boss of the CGT, Bernard Thibault, said the prime minister's plan was 'very far away' from what the CGT expected. He demanded clarification of the state's intentions. The marine section of the CFDT also expressed its opposition to the government plan, as well as did the FO.

In the course of Thursday the four sailors held in custody had an initial hearing in court in Marseille. On Corsica tension increased to the point of a Soviet–made anti–tank rocket being fired at the prefecture in Ajaccio Thursday evening, causing a spectacular explosion but no injuries. This action was attributed to 'disorganized' members of the Corsican independence movement, not to strikers.

As of Friday no ships have reached or left Corsica for three days. The last port in operation, at Bonifacio, was blocked this morning, cutting off sailings to and from Sardinia. The airport at Ajaccio is having difficulties and there are no flights at all operating at Bastia.

Fuel truck drivers, members of the STC union, were blocking the exits at the two fuel depots on the island and gas stations are running low on petrol. More than 80 other trucks were stopped at Furiani near Bastia, causing huge traffic jams. Near Ajaccio's airport barricades were hindering passenger access. Authorities estimated that more than 4000 vacationers were stranded on Corsica, unable to leave.

About 100 SNCM sailors, of all unions, were outside the Palais de Justice in Marseille this morning, awaiting the court's decision about the detention of Alain Mosconi, his brothers Jean–Marc and Patrick, and Félix Dagregorio, all STC militants, and supposedly the ringleaders of the ferry hijacking. Several hundred others, responding to a call by the CGT, gathered in the port area of La Joliette.

In Paris Jacques Chirac 'strongly condemned' the rocket attack and minister of the interior Nicolas Sarkozy said he wouldn't let 'public order' on Corsica degenerate. Dominique de Villepin said everything would be done to expose the authors to the judicial system.

In Brussels the European commissioner for transport, Jacques Barrot – who is French – said thatphoto, space ship, nuit blanche, les halles the state had to reduce its capital investment in SNCM 'over time.' France's minister of finance Thierry Breton, also in Brussels, said that the state's participation would have to continue, 'at least until the company's finances improved.'

Very spacy near the Fontaine des Innocents.

The SNCM ferry line has operated in the red for years, and is currently in a 76 million euro restructuring plan approved by Brussels in 2003 that was supposed to lead to profitability by 2006. Given the charged feelings over the past few days, there seems to be a possibility that Brussels will agree to an 'actualization' of this ongoing plan.

Late news from Marseille tonight announced the liberation of the four STC sailors who participated in the hijack of the ferry Pascal Paoli. The quartet has been charged, and released under judicial control until their trial over the objections of the prosecutor. They received an enthusiastic welcome on arriving in Corsica.

What's Right With Corsica?

While a slim majority of Corsicans are believed to be opposed to full independence for this island in the Mediterranean, a government plan to unite the island's two departments was narrowly defeated in a vote in 2003. Since Paris dislikes local autonomy, it is possible that the government didn't try too hard to sell the idea.


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