Strik­ing French Work­ers Dis­rupt Flights, Schools

Iran News - - WORLD NEWS -

PARIS (Dis­patches) - French pub­lic sec­tor work­ers went on strike against Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron’s plans to cull jobs and toughen pay con­di­tions, forc­ing air­lines to can­cel hun­dreds of flights and dis­rupt­ing school ac­tiv­i­ties.

Civil ser­vants, teach­ers and nurses marched through cities across France, from Toulouse in the south to Stras­bourg in the east, be­fore the day’s big­gest rally in Paris.

It is the first time in a decade that all unions rep­re­sent­ing more than 5 mil­lion pub­lic work­ers have ral­lied be­hind a protest call.

Turnout is an im­por­tant in­di­ca­tor of pub­lic ap­petite for protest against Macron’s so­cial and eco­nomic re­forms, which the for­mer in­vest­ment banker says are needed to un­lock eco­nomic growth and put pub­lic fi­nances on a more sus­tain­able foot­ing.

As in other re­cent demon­stra­tions, the num­ber of pro­test­ers ap­peared low. While unions said some 400,000 peo­ple turned out across the coun­try, the in­te­rior min­istry put the fig­ure at 209,000.

The econ­omy min­istry said some just 14 per­cent of state civil ser­vants had been on strike and just 9.5 per­cent in lo­cal ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Protests last month against la­bor law re­form that were led by pri­vate sec­tor unions failed to per­suade Macron to change pol­icy course, but the French la­bor move­ment has tra­di­tion­ally been more mus­cu­lar in the pub­lic sec­tor.

“We want to make our voices heard after months and months of at­tacks against the pub­lic sec­tor and its work­ers,” said My­lene Jac­quot, head of the civil ser­vants’ fed­er­a­tion at the mod­er­ate CFDT, France’s big­gest trade union.

“In par­tic­u­lar, we want to force the gov­ern­ment to make good on its prom­ise re­gard­ing our spend­ing power.”

Strike notices were lodged in schools, hos­pi­tals, air­ports and gov­ern­ment ministries over plans to axe 120,000 jobs, freeze pay and re­duce sick leave com­pen­sa­tion.

The civil avi­a­tion author­ity said 30 per­cent of flights at air­ports na­tion­wide had been can­celled but there was no dis­rup­tion on the rail net­work. The Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion said fewer than one in five teach­ers were on strike.

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