From the Independent: French electricity and gas workers went on strike yesterday, blacking out the street-lighting in Lille and other towns and pelting their Paris headquarters with light bulbs to protest against plans to "privatise" the industry. The government insisted that no such sell-off plans existed and that the state might even increase its 51 per cent stake in the power utilities as a result of restructuring plans. Nonetheless, more than half of the country's 300,000 power workers went on strike to demand the withdrawal of plans announced on Wednesday to change the legal status of Electricité de France (EDF) and Gas de France (GDF) to limited companies. The dispute is a foretaste of the street battles that will probably confront the centre-right government of Jean-Pierre Raffarin as it tries to push ahead with economic and social reforms despite catastrophic losses in regional elections two weeks ago. It is, in particular, a baptism of fire for the new Finance Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy.


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