French workers stage nationwide anti-austerity strike
French workers and pensioners have staged a one-day strike across the country to protest against the government’s economic policies, Press TV reports.
On Thursday, workers from both public and private sectors walked off their jobs and took part in anti-government rallies all over the European country.
In the capital city of Paris, more than 100,000 protesters took to the streets to push the government of President Francois Hollande to reconsider its austerity policies.
“We want the government to change its policies, but we have no illusions as they have given left-wing financial aid to the bosses, but right-wing austerity to the workers. We must now demonstrate regularly to change things because just one day won’t be enough,” a protester told Press TV.
According to reports, dissatisfaction is mounting in France as many people blame Hollande’s policies for low living standards and tough labor conditions for average workers and pensioners. The French believe such general strikes are the only way to push Hollande’s administration to change its direction before the presidential elections in 2017.
“Whether we demonstrate in the streets or whether we vote, people now believe that those in power ignore us. But demonstrations are the chance to focus attention on things the government wants to hide. And without more of these, we will have no chance to change things,” another protester said in an interview with Press TV.
Another protester also called for a widespread industrial action all over Europe to stop the continent’s statesmen from pursuing harsh austerity policies.
“We must view the situation in its international dimension and not just nation by nation. We need to rise up around Europe in order for us to stop austerity and win back our rights,” he said.
Earlier in the day, an anti-austerity strike led to the closure of the Eiffel Tower to visitors in Paris.
Meanwhile, the French airlines were forced to call off around half of their scheduled flights as the air traffic controllers launched a two-day strike on Wednesday to demand better working conditions.
This is while Radio France, the country’s public service radio broadcaster, is witnessing the fourth week of a similar strike by its employees.
The French economy has been stagnant for years with the rate of unemployment hovering around 10 percent.
France’s austerity policies have put its citizens under more financial pressure. Sales taxes and retirement taxes have been raised, while massive cuts to social services have forced households to dip into their own pocket to cover for the government’s absence.