Unions Fire Warning Shots At Sarkozy

French labor leaders hint at general strikes
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted May 8, 2007 6:00 AM CDT
French President elect Nicolas Sarkozy, right, gestures as he delivers a speech before supporters on Concorde square in Paris, Sunday May 6, 2007, as his wife Cecilia, left, looks on. Energized French...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Nicolas Sarkozy could be on a collision course with French labor unions over  his "economic evolution." The president-elect wooed voters with proposals to extend the 35-hour work week, slash welfare, curb the right to strike and cut taxes. But even as Sarkozy headed to Malta before taking office next week, union leaders were flexing muscles.

"All attempts to pass things by force would backfire," labor chief Jean-Claude Mailly tells the Guardian darkly, recalling the crippling general strikes that frustrated Jacques Chirac when he took office in 1995 and tried to push through change. Sarkozy's victory at the polls has been greeted by widespread  rioting in Paris and other cities.