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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Civil Servants Join Growing Walkout

PARIS -- French teachers, postal workers and other civil servants joined forces with protesting transport workers Tuesday in strikes that challenge President Nicolas Sarkozy's plans to reform the economy.

Around 30 percent of France's civil servants joined transport and energy workers in a wave of protests over issues ranging from pension reform to the cost of living.

The protests, which disrupted schools, trains, postal services and airports, are regarded as the biggest threat to Sarkozy's planned reforms since he was elected president in May.

Public Accounts Minister Eric Woerth said strikes were costing France from 300 million euros ($439 million) to 400 million euros per day, and the week-old transport strike could hurt the economy if it dragged on.

"Not over several days. But if it lasted longer, it could obviously have consequences," he told France Inter radio.

"When you decide not to work, when you prevent goods from circulating in a certain way, when you prevent people from getting to places, obviously that can be a problem at some point."

The rail workers oppose Sarkozy's plan to scrap some public sector pension rights. They voted to continue the strike so that it overlapped with Tuesday's one-day walkout by civil servants.

Public sector workers object to Sarkozy's plan not to replace some retiring civil servants, a move he hopes will cut costs, and say their purchasing power is being eroded.

Carrying banners reading "All together for pensions, wages, jobs, public service," several thousand railway workers, civil servants and supporters from the private sector rallied in Marseille in the south.

Opinion polls show that the rail strike is unpopular with most French voters. But the government is also under pressure to show it is working for a breakthrough.