Striking French Workers Defy Sarkozy

Nationwide strike cripples transport, shuts schools
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 19, 2009 9:44 AM CDT
A new wave of nationwide strikes by angry workers demanding that French President's Nicolas Sarkozy do more to fight the economic crisis hit France on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
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(Newser) – France is in the grip of the second nationwide strike in 2 months today as unions protest the Sarkozy administration's economic policies, reports AFP. Air and rail transport has been disrupted, and half of primary school teachers have not come into work. The strikers are demanding a higher minimum wage, more progressive taxation, and an end to plans to cut the public sector.

Last month, following a similar protest, the president agreed to a $3.5 billion benefits package, but this time Sarkozy is standing firm. His government has ruled out any new social spending and say it will not bow to pressure to throw out an income tax cap the  demonstrators call a gift to the wealthy. A poll found that 78% of French people thought today's strikes were justified.