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Air and rail staff call for walkouts

Air France and SNCF workers will strike next week against changes to work contracts.

STAFF at Air France and the SNCF have called for strikes in the first week of November.

Rail drivers will protest on November 6 against changes to work contracts. The strike starts officially at 20.00 on November 5 until 8.00 on November 7 but disruption is likely to last longer.

SNCF bosses said that a meeting has been organised for November 3 in a bid to stave off the action. They added they did not know how many divers would actually take part.

Unions are angry at a new contract introduced by the SNCF which allows drivers in the freight sector to work longer hours on a voluntary basis.

They have accused the company of "blackmail" by trying to get worse conditions gradually accepted by drivers.

According to the SNCF, 800 drivers out of 4,000 have already switched to the scheme.

The company wants to extend such contracts to those working directly for the SNCF in the public transport sector, however to do so it must modify its charter.

Company bosses will meet with unions and government officials to discuss modifying the rules on November 12.

A spokesman for the CGT-Cheminots union said: "Under the disguise of responding to competition, the government and the bosses of the SNCF have launched an unprecedented attack on the working conditions of SNCF drivers."

He added that any modification would mean a deterioration of working conditions and weakening in safety standards.

Air France

Workers at Air France have called for national strikes from November 4 until November 8.

They are protesting against plans to raise the retirement age for pilots and air crew to 65 (currently 60 for pilots and 55 for hostesses and stewards).

The CGT union said the decision had been taken without consultation and was "unacceptable and dangerous".

While the SNPL pilots union has not officially called for a strike, it said that if the idea was not dropped there "would be a strong reaction and a call for a very long strike."

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