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French Transport Strike Causes Second Day of Chaos


Commuters in France struggled through the second day of a transportation strike Thursday, as unions challenge President Nicolas Sarkozy's reform plans.

With less than a third of Paris metro trains running, the streets of Paris were clogged with pedestrians and bicyclists. National train service has been disrupted and some regional train service is completely shut down.

The president says he wants the strikes to end now, and has accepted a union offer for negotiations. However, he is insisting that his election promises earlier this year to reform France's ailing pension system are non-negotiable.

Workers are voting daily whether to maintain the strike.

This is the second transportation work stoppage in less than a month.

About 150 of the 700 high speed trains are operating across the country Thursday. The Eurostar express train to London is also running normally, after making its historic first high-speed trip Tuesday.

Strikes in 1995 forced then-President Jacques Chirac to back down from reform plans. This time, opinion polls indicate most people support Mr. Sarkozy.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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