Page last updated at 17:44 GMT, Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Sarkozy aims to head off unrest


Sarkozy announces aid proposals

President Nicolas Sarkozy has proposed tax breaks and benefits to help French people cope with the economic crisis.

The measures were announced as he met labour unions and employers to try to calm mounting economic unrest.

With his popularity ratings at an all-time low, the meeting is seen as a crucial one for President Sarkozy, correspondents say.

In January more than a million people marched in protest at the government's handling of the economic crisis.

And the unions have called for another general strike on 19 March.

Despite having put in place a 26bn euro ($33.1bn; 23.5bn) stimulus package for France's struggling economy, the unions are demanding the French leader concentrate less on rescuing ailing big businesses and banks, more on protecting the jobs and wages of the ordinary worker, says the BBC's Emma Jane Kirby in Paris.

Fear of unrest

Nicolas Sarkozy meets French unions, 18/02/09
President Sarkozy is hoping to reach agreement with the unions

On Wednesday he unveiled proposals for tax breaks and social benefits he said were worth up to 2.65bn euros (2.3bn).

They include increased benefits for workers made redundant, training programmes, and expanding a voucher scheme to pay for child care, domestic help and home studies.

But Mr Sarkozy did not agree to raise the minimum wage, as some union leaders have called for.

And he has already ruled out reversing key reforms such as plans to slash thousands of public sector posts.

Earlier this week one of the president's closest advisers told a French newspaper that there was a serious risk that outbreaks of anger such as the riots seen in Greece last year could also happen in France.

The government is also keen to avoid a repeat of the prolonged general strikes of 1995 which crippled France and prevented its then-leader, Jacques Chirac, from carrying out reforms, says our correspondent.

Print Sponsor

Guadeloupe protests turn deadly
18 Feb 09 |  Europe
Sarkozy defends plans for economy
06 Feb 09 |  Business
Huge crowds join French strikes
29 Jan 09 |  Europe

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2019 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific