FACTBOX: Who is on strike in France and why

PARIS Thu Jan 29, 2009 6:26am EST

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PARIS (Reuters) - France's eight labor unions called on public and private sector workers to go on strike on Thursday to demand more action from government and companies to protect jobs and salaries.

The common ground between the strikers is discontent over the economic crisis, which the unions are presenting as a problem caused by the rich which is hurting the poor. But beyond the general gloom, some sectors have their own specific demands.

Here are the grievances in some of the main sectors and the expected impact of the strike.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Local and national services were severely disrupted. The workers want pay rises and better conditions.

The RER network linking Paris to its suburbs was badly hit, with only one in five trains running on one major line and 35 percent running on the line to Charles de Gaulle airport. There were also disruptions on most lines of the Paris metro.

Transport in other major cities was also affected.

The SNCF national rail company said 36 percent of workers were on strike. Between 50 and 100 percent of inter-city TGV trains to or from Paris were running, but there was none from region to region. Local train services were severely disrupted.

EDUCATION

Schoolteachers want the government to drop plans to cut 13,500 jobs in education this year. One in three teachers were on strike, the Education Ministry said -- well short of the 60 percent of teachers unions had said would take part.

University lecturers and students were also taking part to protest against 900 planned job losses in their sector.

AIR FRANCE

The airline canceled 30 percent of short- and medium-haul flights from Orly airport near Paris and 10 percent from Charles de Gaulle. It was planning to run all its long-haul flights.

JUSTICE SYSTEM

Magistrates' and lawyers' unions called on members to strike in protest at government reforms which they say threaten the independence of the justice system.

POST OFFICE

One in four postal workers was on strike, according to a first estimate. Unions called on employees to denounce government plans to change the status of the state-owned post office, which they interpret as a first step in a stealth privatization plan.

HOSPITALS

Public sector hospital workers object to a government reform plan which parliament is scheduled to examine in February. The unions say the plan does not give overstretched hospitals the resources they need.

STATE TELEVISION AND RADIO

State radio stations France Inter and France Info were unable to run normal programs because of the strike. Anger is high over a new law that has banned prime time advertising on public television and given the president the power to appoint the head of the state broadcaster. Unions say this undermines its financial and political independence.

(Reporting by Jean-Baptiste Vey and Estelle Shirbon)

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