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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

French Protest Conditions in Public Sector

PARIS -- Hundreds of thousands of French teachers, hospital workers and civil servants walked off the job Thursday, joining a rolling wave of strikes aimed at President Jacques Chirac's conservative government on wages and benefits.

More than 40 percent of the 894,000 teaching personnel in France's schools and colleges joined the strike over a hiring squeeze and other complaints about government policies, the Education Ministry said.

All daytime flights to and from Bordeaux's airport in the southwest -- 91 flights in all -- were canceled because air traffic controllers joined the protests.

The action follows strikes by postal workers Tuesday and on Wednesday by surgeons in public hospitals and by rail workers, causing widespread disruptions for train users.

Teachers were expected to form the vanguard of a large protest march through Paris by civil servants on Thursday afternoon. Unions said they expected tens of thousands of marchers, including workers from public hospitals, the postal service and electricity and gas providers.

Demonstrations also were planned in dozens of others cities and towns throughout France. At least 5,500 people, including Bank of France employees, hospital staff and teachers, marched through the central French town of Clermont-Ferrand with banners marked, "Civil servants are on strike to defend their salaries and their status!"