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Paris commuters hit by travel disruption as metro workers strike

By Caroline Pailliez and Yiming Woo

PARIS (Reuters) -Commuters and tourists faced serious travel disruption on Thursday as metro workers in Paris went on strike, with about half of the lines completely closed and most others operating at peak hours only.

Though the strike call was widely followed, there was no overcrowding in metro stations because many people chose to work from home. But for those whose physical presence was required at work, getting there was difficult.

Commuter Claude Miamo, a receptionist, said she had waited a long time to find a train to get into Paris, only to find her metro line closed.

"I'm going to take an Uber, it's an additional expense but I have no choice, I have to go to work."

Vincent Gautheron, CGT union leader at Paris public transport company RATP, said the union wanted the company to bring forward wage talks planned for December, seeking increases that will compensate for inflation.

A Paris demonstration organised by the hardline CGT union attracted only a few thousand supporters, with most other unions staying away.

"Employers and the government only give to demonstrations and strikes. Talks and meetings produce no results," said Air France retiree and CGT union member Philippe Gaillard.

The CGT had called on workers nationwide to walk off the job in a push for higher wages at time of record inflation and in protest against planned pension reforms.

But the impact beyond the millions who use the Paris metro was quite limited. Other unions have not joined in after similar calls in recent weeks failed to gain much traction.

Murielle Guilbert, co-head of Solidaires, another union, said it did not join the call for a nationwide strike because it did not feel there was potential for a massive mobilisation over wages and preferred to focus on specific sectors.

A sector-specific, weeks-long strike called by the CGT at TotalEnergies ended with a wage agreement after fuel shortages at petrol stations.

Thursday's walkout comes in a tense political climate as the French government, which lacks a straight majority in parliament, repeatedly used special constitutional powers to push through its 2023 budget bill without a vote.

Unions are also focused on President Emmanuel Macron's ability to pass pension reforms, which could trigger mass protests.

(Writing by Ingrid Melander and Caroline PailliezEditing by Bill Berkrot, Angus MacSwan and David Goodman)