Thousands protest against job cuts in France

21 Jan 2010
Thousands of workers have taken to the streets across France to protest against job cuts in the public sector.

On Thursday, teachers, civil servants and health workers took part in demonstrations across the country to protest plans by the center-right government of President Nicolas Sarkozy to replace only one in two public sector workers when they retire.

In Paris, demonstrators marched through the city center, waving banners and chanting slogans but the protest appeared to have attracted far fewer than similar protests last year and none of the leaders of the major unions took part in the event.

France’s state teachers, who number up to almost 1 million and form an influential bloc, appear to have made up the bulk of the protestors, underlining their growing discontent about the effect of the cuts on already overcrowded classrooms.

Police said some 6,600 took part in the Paris demonstration while the General Confederation of Labor union put the figure at 15,000, with 130,000 taking part in about 100 demonstrations across the country.

The latest in a series of protests in France comes as President Sarkozy refuses to back down on plans to cut public-sector jobs. He has also rejected calls for higher salaries.

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