French unions split Friday over whether to pursue a strike that has hobbled transport nationwide, with some voting to keep up the pressure but another saying the walkout had lost too much steam.
The divisions gave President Nicolas Sarkozy the upper hand in his plans to strip away the generous pension benefits of many transport workers. Unions were having trouble persuading the rank-and-file to stay off the job, compromising their hopes of forcing Sarkozy to back down.
One important union, CFDT-Cheminots, urged workers to return to work for now, saying the protest movement was losing momentum and calling for negotiations. Sarkozy's spokesman, David Martinon, pressed strikers to stand down: "Travelers continue to be seriously penalized by a movement that has no more reason to continue," he said.