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French Workers Strike to Protest Economy

Lisa Bryant

A nation-wide strike in France has severely disrupted air, rail and commuter service across the country.  Hospitals have reduced staff, and teachers, civil servants, journalists and transportation workers have decided not to show up to work to protest the economic crisis and government reforms
 
The French are calling the day "Black Thursday" as a massive strike has partially shuttered the country.  French workers are venting their concern about the global economic crisis that has taken its toll here, with the country teetering on the edge of recession.  They are also expressing their anger at education and other reforms proposed by the center-right government of French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

For those commuters who went to work, getting around on public transportation has posed a major challenge.  Only a fraction of the metros in Paris and France's second-largest city, Marseille, were running. 

Some French hitchhiked, biked, walked or roller bladed to work.  Others took their chances with the metro.

At the Val de Fontenay metro station outside Paris, loudspeakers blared announcing the next train - due to arrive in 20 minutes.

Sixteen-year-old high school student Harold Jethat had just gotten off a metro to go to school. Harold said it was very difficult to take the metro - he had to wait an hour for a train.  But he believes the strikers are right to strike.

Banker Joffroy Chartier also believes the strikers are right.

"The government puts money aside," he said, "but for big banks not for ordinary people."  He believes the government should be doing more to help French citizens who are worried about job security and making ends meet.

The strike has also disrupted airline and national train service, although international train service is functioning more or less normally.  Tens of thousands of French are also holding protest marches across the country. 

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