General strike disrupts French transportation and schools
French teachers, postal employees, journalists and other workers from the public and private sectors on Thursday joined railway employees in a one-day general strike that has disrupted transportation and shut schools across the country, reported dpa.
Major trade unions called the strike to demand more job security, additional state aid to small and middle-sized companies threatened by the economic crisis and a halt to parts of President Nicolas Sarkozy's economic reforms.
Public transport in 77 cities and towns across France was expected to be disrupted to varying degrees on Monday, after employees for the state-owned SNCF rail network kicked off the strike late Tuesday.
In the greater Paris area, the majority of scheduled trains linking the capital with its suburbs were not operating early Thursday, while an average of about one of two scheduled metro trains were running in the city, the RATP transport system said.
The SNCF said about half of all scheduled high-speed TGV and regional trains were expected to be running during the strike.
The French Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC) said that some 70 per cent of all domestic flights were expected to be cancelled on Thursday.
Hundreds of thousands of people were expected to take part in protest demonstrations throughout the country later Thursday.
The extent of the strikes and the number of protesters in the streets will be closely watched, as they represent an important test between union leaders and Sarkozy.
Union leaders have said that a successful strike day will embolden them to increase the pressure on the government through more job actions.