Oh, Look! The French Aren’t Working!

I’m shocked, shocked I tell you!

More than one million French workers downed tools yesterday in the first general strike to hit a major industrialised nation since the start of the global financial crisis.

Unions said more than two million public and private sector workers took to the streets across France to protest against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s handling of the economic crisis, saying too much had been done to bail out fat cats and banks, and not enough to protect jobs and help workers make ends meet.

Air traffic controllers, train drivers, teachers, nurses, and tax inspectors were joined by private sector workers including bank clerks and staff from the firm that runs the Paris stock exchange. Some schools were shut, flights were cancelled, and the Palace of Versailles cwas losed in a rare show of unity between unions, although “Black Thursday” did not bring total transport paralysis.

After dark, as crowds dispersed from the Paris protest, more than 100 people clashed with police at Place de l’Opéra, throwing bottles, overturning cars, and starting fires in the street. Thirteen people were arrested.

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