http://www.guardian.co.uk/international ... 90,00.html
Bus firm takes car sharers to court
Kim Willsher in Paris
Monday July 11, 2005
They might have been congratulated for their "green" efforts in an area of heavy air pollution.
Instead a group of French cleaning ladies who organised a car-sharing scheme to get to work are being taken to court by a coach company which accuses them of "an act of unfair and parasitical competition".
The women, who live in Moselle and work five days a week at EU offices in Luxembourg, are being taken to court by Transports Schiocchet Excursions, which runs a service along the route. It wants the women to be fined and their cars confiscated.
Two years ago a business tribunal threw out the company's case. It is now pursuing the women in a higher court, claiming that their action has cost it €2m (£1.4m).
The women explained that for many years cleaners used the TSE line for the 40-minute ride across the border, which cost them €110 (£76) a month.
"Using our cars is quicker and at least twice as cheap. And on the bus we didn't have the right to eat or even to speak," said Martine Bourguignon. Odette Friedmann added: "In the evening instead of coming to get us at 9.30pm the bus would arrive at 10.30pm. If you made any comment to the driver you'd get a mouthful of abuse."
"It's absurd and ridiculous," said the women's lawyer, Cécile Klein-Schmitt. "I don't see how any magistrate can find any legal basis for this case."
TSE is also suing the women's employer, Onet-Luxembourg. "They've basically accused us of inciting the car-sharing scheme when we have nothing to do with the method of transport used by our staff," said director Frédéric Sirerol.
The court case will be heard in January next year.