By Henry Samuel in ParisSarkozy under pressure as strikes sweep FranceAngry chants filled the Place de la Bastille yesterday as the Paris landmark became a rallying point for a one-day national strike.
As fervent anti-government demonstrations swept France, the day of action billed as “Black Thursday” was hailed by union leaders as the country’s “biggest workers’ protest in 20 years”.
Marchers in cities across the country voiced their anger at the government’s response to their economic plight, with members of eight unions joining the strike.
The effectiveness of their action was questioned when the transport network suffered less disruption than expected.
But labour leaders claimed that up to 2.5 million people took part in the protests, with at least 300,000 on the streets of the capital.
Francois Chereque, the head of the CFDT union, said: “We have not seen action on this scale for two decades. It is a cry of anger.”
France responds to economic downturn with a general strike
People everywhere talk about the economic crisis, but the French, in their way, are doing something about it. France has come to a near standstill for a one-day general strike, the CBC’s David Common reports from Paris.
Hundreds of thousands of people are taking to the streets, protesting that banks, not people, are being bailed out and decrying President Nicolas Sarkozy’s cost-cutting moves as unemployment creeps toward 10 per cent.
“Today is being called Black Thursday here in France, and with good reason,” Common reports. “Here’s just a partial list of the things that are closed or in limited service: the metro, buses, trains, airports, hospitals, schools, government offices, post offices — the list goes on and on.”
France’s normally irrepressible president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has had little to say about the protest.