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Strikes to hit Air France Saturday, rail later

The airline's cabin staff say that their job and work conditions are being undermined. And at the state railway, unions are reacting to plans for more rail liberalization.
Two of three unions representing flight attendants at Air France have called for strike action to protest plans to reduce the number of attendants on each flight.Loic Venance / AFP
/ Source: Reuters

Air France expects a strike by cabin staff, who say their job and work conditions are being undermined, to hit about one in five flights on Saturday.

The French airline said on Thursday the strike was unjustified industrial action during a busy holiday period.

"Delays and some same-day cancellations of flights are expected," the carrier said in a statement, forecasting that 80 percent of flights would operate on Saturday, Oct. 29.

Tuesday, Nov. 1 is a public holiday in France and many people take the Monday off to extend the weekend break. It also falls in a period where children are on mid-term school holiday.

Separately, unions at the SNCF state railway — including by far the biggest SNCF union, the CGT — said they were calling a strike on Nov. 8 as part of a call for stoppages across Europe in response to plans for further rail liberalization.

The CGT said in a statement that a legislative package due to be examined by the European Parliament in mid-November would undermine the public rail service and working conditions in France, at a time when the French government was seeking an SNCF reorganization that would further open railways to competition.