Over million strike in France demanding job protection

* Strikers call for wage boost
* Flights cancelled, national and regional train services disrupted
PARIS: More than a million French workers walked off the job Thursday on a national day of strikes and protests against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s handling of the economic crisis.


Billed as a “Black Thursday”, the day of action stopped short of paralysing the Paris transport network, but strike turnout was high with 23 percent of France’s five million public sector workers downing tools. Many in France fear they will lose their jobs in a crisis they blame on bankers and the failures of the market, and are demanding protection from layoffs, a boost to low wages and an end to public sector cutbacks.

Teacher strikes shut down hundreds of schools, forcing parents to stay home to mind their children, while thousands more public and private sector workers took a day off to avoid the disruption. Public support for the protests remains high, and trade unions were predicting huge crowds to join around 200 street marches planned for later Thursday across the country. Officials said just over a third of teachers, a quarter of postal, telecoms and state electricity workers and 15 percent of air traffic controllers were on strike.

Unions said 40 percent of the national SNCF network’s staff walked out. A third of flights out of Paris’ second airport Orly were cancelled, but remaining services from there and the larger Charles de Gaulle were delayed only by around half-and-hour, as much by thick fog as by the strike. Inside the city, around three-quarters of Metro trains were running on the underground network, along with 85 percent of buses and all trams and airport shuttle services, management told AFP.

Suited workers biked or skated to work to avoid the disruption, with officials reporting a 150 percent surge in use of the city’s hugely popular cycle rental network, Velib. There was more trouble on the RER commuter rail network bringing workers into the city, with one branch line fully closed and as few as one in five trains running on others. But arriving in Paris, many commuters were unperturbed by the disruption and many expressed support for the strikers, even as they headed to work.

“I’m tired and frozen after waiting half-an-hour on the platform, but I’m prepared to accept that, when it’s a movement to defend our spending power and jobs,” said 34-year-old secretary Sandrine Dermont. “I’ll join the street protests during my lunch break,” she added, as she pulled in to Saint Lazare station in Paris. “I can’t march because it would be held against me at work,” said Patrick Laine, a 42-year-old administrator at an insurance firm.
In France’s second city of Marseille the Metro was closed, but in Lille eight buses in 10 were working and in Bordeaux and Lyon trams and subways were operating at around half capacity. National and regional train services were disrupted, though not as badly as had been expected. Rail firm SNCF predicted that 60 percent of high-speed TGV services would run, and 40 percent of regional trains. Eurostar services to London and the Thalys to Belgium and the Netherlands and the Alleo to Germany were not expected to suffer delays, but the Lyria line to Switzerland was to run at between a third and a half capacity.



  1. emma_net said

    that`s not a fair europe,we didn`t decide for that and we need to take it back.
    Banks are responsible for all those troubles

  2. marceau said

    “no justice,no peace” to much problems and the systemis all fu……
    we should stay more united against this system.

  3. johnnybegood said

    fortunately………yeah here in england we haven`t got that mess.
    sigh British are going worste than ever

  4. pureyorkshirebraised said

    we will never go in that europe brits are brits and we can see what is going on there.

  5. becker@bed said

    french people has got the strike in their DNA so was inevitable that it was going to happen in there.

    why here in Germany we don`t do like them

  6. anastopoulos said

    it`s not that bad europe like that.SINCE WE ARE IN EUROPE OUR ECONOMY in Greece
    grew a lot

  7. pureyorkshirebraised said

    that`s why you had riots in greece for over a month.
    gimme a break man

  8. marceau said

    this europe is unfair.do u know that germany borrow money from the central bank for a cheaper rate? why?are german better than spanish or french ?
    this europe has not right to be

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