No power to the people as walkout causes electric shock for Parisians

Thousands
of French energy workers have staged a mass strike, triggering power cuts in
some areas of the country.

Unions
called the 24-hour stoppage in response to government plans to transform
state-owned power firms EDF and GDF into private companies.

They
see the move as a prelude to a full sell-off, despite government promises to
hold on to a minimum 65 per cent stake in the utilities.

The
strike has curbed energy output, causing blackouts in the Paris suburbs. Some
localised power cuts were also reported on the Mediterranean coast.

Unions
said about three-quarters of the 150,000 staff at EDF and GDF were observing
the strike, although management claimed the figure was closer to 45 per cent.

The
strike is the latest in a series of protests against moves to liberalise
France’s power markets in the past two years.

By Mike Berry

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