French Resistance up to their old tricks again!

Looks like they may have reactivated the green plan: Jeans mustache is growing longer!

Saboteurs raised the stakes in the stand-off over President Sarkozy’s reforms today, staging a series of attacks on France’s high-speed rail network that further disrupted services already crippled by a week-long transport strike.

Vandalism to signal systems around Paris, Lille and other cities delayed TGV express trains for up to three hours, adding to disruption from the strike on the SNCF railways and the RATP Paris transport authority. The Eurostar cross-Channel service was not affected.

All sides denounced the attacks - in which dozens of yards of cables were burnt and burning rags were jammed into switching systems - as criminal and dangerous. Mr Sarkozy called for the culprits to be punished with the “utmost severity”.

“Co-ordinated acts of sabotage have been committed,” François Fillon, the Prime Minister, told Parliament. “Those who committed them will not get away with it ... The punishment will be heavy.”

With the crisis costing France around €400 million a day, according to government estimates, Eric Woerth, the Civil Service Minister, said that the sabotage was clearly political and designed to deal a blow to talks.

“The way the acts were aimed at strategic points leaves no doubt that the aim was to slow down the return of services, hinder passengers and stop negotiations running smoothly,” he said.

The vandalism was staged just before the employers, unions and Government opened talks to find ways of compensating the public-sector workers for giving up their long-standing right to early retirement.

Mr Sarkozy is deemed now to have won acceptance for this politically loaded reform, but a minority, which includes many train and underground drivers, is holding out. Four-fifths of transport employees were back at work this morning but fewer than half the normal services were running, mainly because many drivers are still fighting to keep their retirement age at 50.

Hardline strikers accused provocateurs of staging the sabotage to discredit them by fuelling anger over the chaos inflicted by the stoppages.

Christian Mahieux, the boss of the Trotskyite Sud-Rail union, which is supported by 14 per cent of railway workers, insisted that no railwaymen would have committed the sabotage. France should ask: “Who profits from the crime ?” he said.

Mr Mahieux has emerged as the figurehead of the die-hards who are refusing any compromise with Mr Sarkozy’s plan to end their privileges. He insisted that his members would only stop striking when Mr Sarkozy abandons not only his reform but also grants early retirement to the whole French working population.

Such ultra-radical discourse is warmly backed by an anti-capitalist fringe that survives more in France than elsewhere, but it embarrasses the mainstream unions who now want to save their fire for Mr Sarkozy’s more vulnerable plans next year.

Libération, the main left-wing daily, said that that the Sud-Rail cause might be deemed noble, but the union was out of touch with public opinion and “risks consigning itself to splendid all-or-nothing isolation, which in the end will play into the hands of the Sarkozy Government”.

Hailing Mr Sarkozy for winning his fight, Le Figaro said: “In the past few days the strike has fundamentally changed in nature. It is no longer the rank-and-file refusing to work, but the hardliners who from the start refused to countenance negotiation.”

All the unions are ready to resume their strikes if a planned month of negotiations does not win enough concessions. The Government has suggested salary rises and top-up pension schemes to soften the end of early retirement. The SNCF management is offering a €90-million-a-year financial package to compensate for the extra two and a half years that staff will be required to work to bring their pension terms in line with those of the civil service.

The public has been largely behind Mr Sarkozy over the transport workers, but the strikes have added to a sense that life has not improved since the election last May of “Super-Sarko” on his promises of a French renaissance.

Laurence Parisot, the head of Medef, the main employers’ federation, called the strikes a disaster. “I compare it to an earthquake. The economic cost is incalculable and likely to be gigantic,” she said.

Mr Sarkozy is facing growing discontent over a failure to fulfil election promises to put more spending money in French pockets. Opinion polls show that about 80 per cent of the French believe that he has yet to deliver on this.

Frustration with the rising cost of living helped spur a national one-day strike by civil servants yesterday. Mr Sarkozy is expected to try to sweeten the sour national mood with a “Christmas package” of tax concessions before leaving for China at the weekend.
On the plus side, at least it'll take the Panzer Divisions a few more days to reach the coast.

Sorry, for a moment there I thought we were living in the 1940s.
labrat said:
Vandalism to signal systems around Paris, Lille and other cities delayed TGV express trains for up to three hours,..
Three hours! Is that the best that the French can do? The theiving tossers who regularlly attack the signalling system in Yorkshire, can usually bring services around Leeds to a halt for most of the day.
Mr_Deputy said:
Jean Moulin* lives on!
And Tony Brooks, ( ) codenamed Alphonse, dropped into France at the age of 20 (!) and formed the Pimento network, which de-railed over a thousand trains after being activated on D-Day. He's credited with slowing down the SS Das Reich division enough for the beachheads in Normandy to be consolidated before the Germas could counterattack.
Mr_Deputy said:
Jean Moulin* lives on!

* (1940s French Resistance leader in Brittany area, British trained and equipped.)

Mind you am reading his book and most of the activity seems to revolve around getting money air-dropped from London (20, 000 francs to buy a bike from a farmer?? how much??) and drinking Calvados. Have nearly finished his memoirs and all that's happened is one fire-fight which the RAF had to help with!
Sorry to spoil the end for you, but it must have been a biography, because he died in 1943 under Gestapo torture.

E waz kill-ed by Klaus Barbie, zé boucher de Lyon.

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