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Page last updated at 16:58 GMT, Thursday, 19 March 2009

French strike: Your views

Hundreds of thousands of workers have joined France's second mass strike in two months against the government's economic policies.

People in France have been telling the BBC News website about the effects of the strike on their work and discussing whether it can achieve its goals.

CORALIE DIATKINE, MUSICIAN, PARIS
Coralie Diatkine

I am a singer. I don't have a fixed wage and my situation is very unstable. And of course, I won't be on strike today.

I do feel that this strike is necessary. The number of poor people in our city is increasing in a crazy way. People on low income can hardly afford to pay the rent.

Those working in the arts and culture have so many reasons to strike. I personally plan to leave France to find better opportunities as a musician abroad.

Our research and educational system is falling into pieces and and it's a shame. Researchers and university lecturers work in appalling conditions.

I understand most people on strike today, though I also understand those who decided to stay at work, because they think they are part of an important project.

Today, I'll go where I have to by bike. I am frustrated not to be able to listen to the radio and I had to postpone a few appointments. Nothing terrible.

I only fear that this movement lacks strong solidarity between all the different categories of people who are unhappy about the way things are. And I feel that it might be too late for things to change.


NICHOLAS ABSON, BUSINESSMAN, ST ALVERE
Nicholas Abson

I am the chief executive of a small private company producing fuel cells. I am affected every time there is a strike.

We live in a rural community and have severe transportation issues. Services are bad to begin with, the electricity network is old, and everything comes to a halt when the public sector decides to strike.

The worst thing for us is that the airports close and we can't take anything in and out of the country.

There are many things that need to be improved, and if there was a strike against the banking system or the way the economy is structured, I'd be the first to join.

It's the public sector, which lives off the back of the fantastic, competent and diligent workers in the private sector, that is on strike. In other words, the government is striking against the government, as absurd as it may sound.

France is run by civil servants and all they think of is their salaries, holidays, weekends and who's going to pay for lunch.

This country will never improve until power is taken from the parasitic civil service and put back into the hands of the people and their elected officials.


JACQUES BAUDIN, RETIRED DIPLOMAT, NEAR CHAMBERY

I will be going out to the demonstration today with my two sons. I think it's time to say no to this kind of failed capitalism we have.

I am not happy about the crooks in the banks who receive lots of money. I oppose the government of President Nicolas Sarkozy. I don't like him, he is very right-wing. He is part of a gang of rich people and he doesn't care about the poor people.

I always strike when I have the opportunity. It's the law of democracy to oppose. It's a good thing. Here in France, we are doing what others, like those in the US and the UK don't want to do. We want to stop this kind of capitalism.

We must do it, we must take to the streets. Money has become our new god and we must react against it.


LAURENT BERNARD, SALES EXECTUTIVE, SAINT VALLIER
Laurent Bernard

I've been working in the private sector for 16 years now and every year we are obliged to suffer the strikes of one category of employees - the civil servants.

Life is of course hard for everybody, but private sector employees are afraid of losing their jobs if they take part in a strike.

Every time, French people are taken hostage by privileged workers like those from the national rail and electricity companies. The civil servants are sure that they'll keep their jobs, have the correct salaries and receive bonuses and other advantages.

For instance, did you know that French railway train drivers enjoy something called a 'coal bonus'? It's from the hard days of the 19th century when train drivers had to breath coal dust.

If this was justified before, high speed trains don't need coal, so why is there such a bonus?

I'm flying tomorrow morning to New York, so I must take the TGV [high-speed train] from Burgundy to Charles De Gaulle airport, but I don't know if there will be trains operating at that time.

I must find another way to reach Paris, maybe by car, but that will increase the cost of my trip, because TGV tickets are not refundable and my car must be parked at the airport at a cost of 15 euros a day.

Thanks very much to civil servants, who do not care about customers and quality of service.


KEZIAH MEE, ENGLISH TEACHING ASSISTANT, AVRANCHES
Keziah Mee

I work in a school in France and never really know who'll be striking. A few teachers will, plenty of others won't.

It's up to individual teachers to decide what to do. It's an identity thing. There are teachers who are strikers who are involved with the unions and strike whenever there is an opportunity to do so. Others prefer never to miss class.

The pupils get confused as to which classes are on and which ones are cancelled. They have to turn up in the morning to find out.

I just had a class, so my students will end up having a class in the morning, then probably a gap of a couple of hours before classes resume later in the day.

The teachers don't talk much about the bigger issues of the economy and the real reasons for strike. Their interest is more in internal school politics.

It's a sunny day today, so I guess there might be many people taking to the streets.




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