The French government faced militant trades union fury on Friday after it confirmed reports that it really was going to bite the bullet, defy the unions and partially privatise France Telecom. The announcement was greeted as additional justification for calling a general strike. Francois Fillon, junior minister for telecommunications, indicated in Washington that between 20% and 49% of France Telecom would be put up for sale before 1998. M Fillon takes his orders from the US. He capitulates to the demands of the chairman of AT&T who calls constantly for the privatisation of France Telecom, the Communist CGT trades union roared. With this new provocation by the minister, staff will find additional reasons to intensify their action, the union added. Strike action at France Telecom was limited but expanding on Friday but it was expected to spread today, Reuter reported. The comments made by Fillon are totally in line with government policy, a government source confirmed.Fillon was in Washington to try to smooth over the last objections the US authorities may have about the proposed investment in Sprint Corp.