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French Civil Servants To Strike

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PARIS — A strike Tuesday in France is expected to disrupt trains, transport, postal services and schools as unions aim a new blow at President Nicolas Sarkozy following his party's drubbing in regional elections.

Train workers launched their action Monday evening. The strike was expected to cancel about a third of France's TGV fast trains, the SNCF rail network said. Eurostar trains to Britain and Thalys trains to Belgium and the Netherlands would not be affected, the rail network said.

Unions say Sarkozy's conservative government hasn't offered satisfactory plans on jobs, salaries, purchasing power and working conditions – and they hope to hammer home that message in the wake of Sunday's runoff elections.

The vote left Socialists in control of 23 of France's 26 regions. Twenty of Sarkozy's Cabinet ministers ran for posts – and all of them lost.

Unions also hope to stymie government efforts to reform French pensions. Demonstrations are planned throughout France, with the main march to take place in Paris.

In Paris, the public transport authority forecast that two out of three Metro trains would run. Fewer suburban trains than usual were expected to operate.

Unions are also seizing the opportunity to push the demands of individual professions. Educators are angry about job cuts, and the union says half of all teachers are expected to strike. Day care employees are fighting a reorganization plan.

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