France halted by protests at cuts

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The Independent Online

President Nicolas Sarkozy's government vowed yesterday to stay on track with belt-tightening reforms meant to modernise France's economy, despite nationwide strikes and a blistering electoral defeat.

Trains, schools and other public services were hobbled by the strike, culminating in around 180 protest marches. Some 31,000 turned out in Paris yesterday afternoon, police said. The CGT union put the number at 60,000 and said 650,000 demonstrated around France.

Unions hoped their joint action would put the brakes on retirement reforms and public sector job cuts promised by Mr Sarkozy. They say Sarkozy has failed workers, slashing jobs and now planning to attack the precious but costly pension system.