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French parliament passes bill on public transport service during strikes

French parliament passes bill on public transport service during strikes

France's parliament passed a law Thursday in move toward trying to guarantee that at least some buses and trains will continue to run during transit strikes, partially fulfilling an important campaign promise by new President Nicolas Sarkozy.
The law was hotly opposed by union leaders, who insisted it threatens French labor's coveted right to strike and pledged to hold retaliatory walkouts in the fall.
The law requires transit providers to inform users which buses and trains are to run during a strike and requires them to reimburse riders if they fail to adhere to the promised schedule.
It also makes it obligatory for individuals to say whether they plan to strike 48 hours before doing so. The measure _ one of the law's most strenuously contested _ aims to end spontaneous strikes that regularly hit some branches of public transport, notably following attacks on bus or subway drivers.
In the past, walkouts by transportation workers have brought the country to a near standstill, leaving people without any way to get to or from work _ sometimes for weeks at a time.
During his campaign, Sarkozy, a conservative who took office in May, pledged to guarantee at least three hours of public transportation in the morning and evening rush hours during walkouts.
But despite attempts by conservative lawmakers to add tough amendments to the bill, the law passed Thursday does not immediately guarantee minimum service on France's public transit.
It requires local authorities and transit providers to define the exact meaning of "minimum service." Those negotiations are to be completed by January, 2008 _ meaning French commuters could again find themselves stranded if unions make good on their promises to strike in the coming months.
"Contrary to what government propaganda suggests, minimum service will not be guaranteed by the fall. It's trickery," said Socialist lawmaker Marc Dolez. "The only result will be a frontal attack on the exercise of the right to strike."


Updated : 2021-10-23 19:22 GMT+08:00