Friday, March 20, 2009

French workers mount countrywide strike

Updated at: 0400 PST, Friday, March 20, 2009

PARIS: French workers staged a second nationwide strike in as many months Thursday in a show of force against President Nicolas Sarkozy's economic policies.Thursday's day of protest, disrupting air and rail transport, comes against a backdrop of mounting anger over job losses and factory closures, as France and its European neighbours feel the bite of a recession that appears set to last well into 2010.Unions and left-wing parties hope to draw more than a million people into the streets to demand a boost to wages and greater protection from the crisis, with some 200 rallies planned across France.Strike action caused the cancellation of one in three flights out of Paris' second airport of Orly, though 90 percent of flights were running out of Paris main Charles-de-Gaulle airport, civil aviation officials said.Nationwide, the state rail operator SNCF cancelled 40 percent of high-speed intercity TGV services and half of other regional trains.Commuters heading into Paris were spared major disruption due to a new law enforcing a minimum service during strikes, while Metro and bus lines were running normally.But with up to half of primary teachers on strike, many parents stayed home from work to look after their children.According to an IFOP poll published this week, 78 percent of French people believe the one-day strike is justified.

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