French unions to hold 2nd day of nationwide protests over economy

Sarkozy has called for talks with the unions on Feb. 18 and France's eight union federations have said fresh protests may be averted if the head of state makes concessions.

French unions to hold 2nd day of nationwide protests over economy

French unions will hold a second day of nationwide protests to denounce President Nicolas Sarkozy's handling of the economy, labour leaders said on Monday, looking to pile on the pressure ahead of negotiations.

Up to 2.5 million protesters took to the streets of France last month to demand more efforts from the Sarkozy government to defend jobs and boost wages during the gathering slowdown.

Sarkozy has called for talks with the unions on Feb. 18 and France's eight union federations have said fresh protests may be averted if the head of state makes concessions.

Facing the biggest labour dispute of his presidency, Sarkozy appeared on prime time television last week offering discussions on welfare benefits, income taxes and youth unemployment.

But he refused to meet a core union demand for specific measures to boost consumer spending, saying a recent British reduction in sales tax had achieved nothing.

Unions said they were disappointed by his proposals and their decision to call a new day of action will keep the pressure firmly on Sarkozy ahead of this month's talks.

"Despite a change of tone, the president is largely sticking with his social and economic policies," France's eight union federations said in a joint statement on Monday announcing their decision to hold a protest on March 19.

A recent wave of opinion polls has shown support for Sarkozy slide during the economic crisis, which has raised unemployment and is expected to tilt France into recession during 2009.

A general strike in Guadeloupe over the cost of living on the French Caribbean island is set to enter its third week, with much of the economic activity in the territory at a halt.

The dispute has spread to the neighbouring island of Martinique and government ministers were due to hold talks on Tuesday to try to resolve the growing crisis.


Reuters

Last Mod: 10 Şubat 2009, 12:20
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