For a second time this year, hundreds of thousands of workers took to
France's streets in a nationwide protest against the government's
response to the economic crisis. The strike, which has affected French
schools, post offices, banks and transportation systems is part of
mushrooming protests around Europe as fears mount of more hard times to
It was a
beautiful day in Paris and across much of France, good weather to be
out of the office and on the streets. But the French were not simply
enjoying sunny spring weather, they were expressing their anger at the
government as layoffs mount and businesses threaten to close amid the
biggest financial crisis in decades.
The last national
demonstration, in January, drew about 2.5 million people. Protests
also paralyzed the French overseas territory of Guadeloupe and spread
to its Indian Ocean territory of Reunion in recent weeks.
latest strike disrupted rail and air traffic, although much of the
public transportation in the Paris area was running. Unions that
called the strike argue President Nicolas Sarkozy has not done enough
to shield ordinary French from the bite of economic hard times. They
want new talks with his center-right government.
That includes Francois Chereque of the CFDT labor union, who aired his complaints on French radio.
says that unlike the January strike when the crisis was largely seen
through statistics, real people and real businesses are now being
effected by it.
A recent survey show most French are behind the
protests. Transportation worker Laloy de Jardin - who was on the job
Thursday - is one of them.
De Jardin says today's strike means
workers are worried - and she understands how they feel. She does not
believe the government is doing enough to help ordinary people cope
with the hard times.
Bernard, a French printer, also faults the government. But he is against the demonstrations. He calls them annoying.
French are not the only workers picketing these days. Greek farmers,
Polish factory workers and German autoworkers have also demonstrated
against their government's response to the crisis; as have workers in
Britain, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Ireland.