In France millions of workers went on strike on Tuesday (24 May) in protest against the government's austerity programme and unemployment.
In France millions of workers went on strike on Tuesday (24 May) in protest against the government's austerity programme and unemployment. The strike hit essential services and public transport, but failed to paralyse industry.
Despite the strike call, the giant state-owned Renault car factory reported that almost two in three of the 70,000 strong work force turned up. "Production lines have slowed down, but we are still turning out cars" a management spokesman said.
SYNOPSIS: Power officials said that major industries were receiving only minimal services and electricity supplies were severely restricted as power station workers responded to the strike call by all the major trade union groupings. However, first indications were that the 24-hour stoppage would not bring industry to a standstill, as the government had feared.
With almost no public transport available, those Parisians who did turn out for work on Tuesday morning had to either use their own cars, hitch-hike or walk. The Paris underground was cut to one train in four and many stations were closed. Railway officials said four out of every five main line trains were cancelled, and Air France said its short-haul services were reduced by half.
It is the third time since 1964 that all of France's main trade union groupings have buried their differences and called out their members on the same day -- and tens of thousands of trade union militants assembled in Paris for a protest march coinciding with the strike.
Leading the marchers were trade union officials Georges Seguy of the communist-led C.G.T. and Edmond Maire of the left-wing C.F.D.T.
Also among the demonstrators were Communist Party chief Georges Marchais and leading left-wing socialist Georges Sarre -- doctors, nurses, teachers, undertakers, old-age pensioners, car workers and civil servants. Singing, shouting and waving banners, it took more than two hours for the marchers to pass through the Place de la Republique -- traditional rallying point for left-wing demonstrations. Their main slogan was "we say no to austerity".