Channel Tunnel reopens after end of surprise pre-Christmas strike


Paris, Dec 22 (AFP/APP):High-speed trains running the Channel Tunnel will resume service on Friday after French unions ended a wildcat strike that had stranded holidaygoers and held up freight just days before Christmas. 
              The surprise walkout by workers that blocked the tunnel sparked hours of chaos at rail hubs in Paris and London.
              Neither side detailed the terms of the agreement or the issues on the negotiating table, but before the strike, French operator Getlink had said unions demanded a tripling of the end-of-year bonus of 1,000 euros ($1,100).
              Employees of Eurotunnel, a subsidiary of Getlink, said the movement was motivated by a "terrible deterioration of the social climate".
              "Besides the money, there are other things. Our conditions are not what they used to be," Cathia Capon, a freight terminal coordinator told AFP during a rally in Coquelles. 
              Eurotunnel unions later announced they were ending their action after negotiations with management that "bore results that satisfy us".
              Getlink said rail shuttle service would resume from Thursday evening, and Eurostar, which operates passenger trains, said regular service out of London, Paris and Brussels would follow suit Friday. 
              Eurostar said it would add six extra trains between Friday and Sunday after it had been forced to cancel 30 scheduled trains. 
              At Gare du Nord station in Paris and St Pancras in London -- the main hubs for cross-Channel passenger train travel -- frustrated travellers dashed to change their reservations or find alternative transportation. 
              "We support people who want to strike ... but we have to tell people (ahead of time)," said Isabelle Margat, 41, a British translator living in France. "There are lots of people here who simply want to celebrate Christmas with their family."