Negotiations begin as France's transit strikes enter 8th full day

Long-awaited negotiations with striking transit workers began Wednesday, the eighth full day of a walkout that has paralyzed train traffic throughout France. Already disrupted train travel was made worse by a series of attacks on high-speed lines that the national rail company described as "coordinated sabotage." Train drivers, Paris Metro employees and certain other public sector workers have been staying off the job to protest President Nicolas Sarkozy's plans to trim their retirement benefits. Sarkozy appears to have the upper hand in the test of strength with powerful transport unions - opinion polls say the public strongly supports the president and strikers have been trickling back to work on subway and long-distance trains. Talks between labor unions and Paris's public transit authority kicked off Wednesday with a government representative present.