LESS people went on strike in yesterday’s second national movement of the year – however more people took to the streets to demonstrate their anger over the government’s handling of the economic crisis.
Between 1.2 million and 3 million people to took part in public protests yesterday – the lower figure given by the police and the higher figure according to union the CGT.
The figures given for the previous national strike on January 29 were between 1.5 million and 2.5 million.
Numbers of employees protesting who have been directly affected by the economic crisis or whose jobs are under threat were considerably up from January. However, the numbers of public service workers on strike in sectors where the risk of being made redundant was low had gone down.
Protestors from the private sector taking to the streets to demonstrate in Paris were also fewer than on January 29. Delegations from firms including Total and Renault-Guyancourt were considerably outnumbered by huge numbers of protesting teachers and hospital staff.
However outside of the capital the numbers of protestors from the private sector was considerable, especially from “symbolic” companies hit by the financial crisis. Staff from tyre makers Continental in Clairoix in the Oise, and between 5 – 8,000 employees from the Sony factory in Pontonx-sur-Adour in the Landes joined protests.
In Grenoble, where the American industrial group Caterpillar is undergoing restructuring after a drop in business, between 34,000 and 60,000 workers took part in protests.
Leader of the FO union Jean-Claude Mailly said the day was “a demonstration that there is a very strong feeling of injustice in this country.”
He added: “I don’t think neither the government nor the employers have understood. However employees expect gestures in favour of spending power, notably regarding the minimum wage, and improving employment prospects for young people.”
Fellow unionist from the CFTC Jacques Voisin said: “Success will be complete when the government has put alternatives in place to stop economic redundancies.”
Unions were due to meet this morning to discuss the next step. It is thought they may targeting May 1 – the annual fête du travail, to call for an even stronger show of force than usual.