French unions unite to press Sarkozy to protect jobs, wages

France's eight union federations urged the government on Monday to address demands made during a national strike last week.

French unions unite to press Sarkozy to protect jobs, wages

France's eight union federations urged the government on Monday to address demands made during a national strike last week, but made no call for fresh action before the president's expected response on Thursday.

Representatives from the unions, which joined forces for the first time since President Nicolas Sarkozy took office in 2007 to protest last Thursday, gathered on the outskirts of Paris to drive home the message that they stood united.

In a joint statement, the unions called on "employees ... to remain mobilised and to draw on the force of January 29," a reference to Thursday's strike, which drew between one and 2.5 million people onto the streets of French cities.

The strikers largely demanded that the government do more to protect jobs and wages.

The unions have drawn up a joint list of demands for the government and companies, saying Sarkozy should drop reforms they see as a threat to public services and aim stimulus measures at consumers rather than companies.

Any union decision on fresh action would depend on Sarkozy's reaction in an expected appearance on television on Thursday, union members said.

"What we want this evening is for the organisations to reaffirm their unity and their wish to be heard," said Maryse Dumas, second-in-charge at the powerful CGT trade union.

"If, in the near future, there is no satisfactory response, then we will envisage fresh action," she said.

For Michele Biaggi, a representative from another union, it was too early to envisage any follow-up to last week's protest.

"It strikes me as difficult to make any decision today given that the president will express himself. We will see if what he says fits in with the framework of our demands," said Biaggi.

Sarkozy is set to appear on three television channels and one radio station on Thursday as part of a programme looking at the financial crisis.

France has not escaped the pain of the worst global financial crisis in decades. On Monday, it reported that its jobless total swelled by nearly 46,000 in December, up 11.4 percent over the year.

Reuters
Last Mod: 03 Şubat 2009, 13:35
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