Teachers, Other Public Servants Strike Throughout France

Thursday, February 8th 2007, 8:51 pm
By: News On 6

PARIS (AP) _ Teachers, tax collectors, railway workers and other public servants went on strike Thursday in France to protest job losses and demand higher pay.

Police said up to 23,000 people demonstrated in Paris _ the largest march _ while the Communist-backed CGT union put the number of demonstrators at 85,000.

Unions representing public servants called for the strike in response to a government announcement that 15,000 jobs would be cut in the public sector in 2007. Strikers also protested the 0.8 percent pay raise received by public servants.

Secondary school teachers stayed out of the classroom, 53 percent of them off work for the day, according to the National Union of Secondary School Teachers. In parts of the poor suburbs east of Paris, 65-70 percent of teachers in the upper levels were striking and 180 schools have been closed, the union said in a statement.

Labor leaders said they would keep up pressure on President Jacques Chirac's conservative government.

``It is for the state to respond,'' said Jean-Claude Mailly of the Workers Force union. ``For the moment, I don't hear much except that we need fewer civil servants and that more should be paid on merit.''

Marches drew 5,000 people in Marseille, unions said, with 3,300 in Toulon, about 6,000 in Rennes and up to 4,000 in Lyon.