Fallout: The Financial Crisis

France stages massive labor protest

Marketplace Staff Jan 29, 2009
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Fallout: The Financial Crisis

France stages massive labor protest

Marketplace Staff Jan 29, 2009
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TEXT OF STORY

Scott Jagow: In France, labor is holding its biggest strike in years. They’re calling this “Black Thursday.” We have a report from Erik Campano in Paris.


[Sound of booing]

Erik Campano: That’s the sound of legislators in France booing the conservative Prime Minister, Francois Fillon, off the podium this week. Left-of-center politicians have been blaming his party for the economic crisis, and they say it should do more to counter rising unemployment and the cost of living.

Oliver Griffith: They don’t agree with his basic kind of free market reforms.

Oliver Griffith is managing director of the American Chamber of Commerce in France. He explains that the French are known for their strikes around the world. That’s not necessarily because they strike more frequently than other Europeans. But, he says, French strikes are more dramatic.

Griffith: The unions are strategically placed in transport industries and education, so when they strike they can wreak havoc with the country.

Business is coming nearly to a halt today because all of the major trade unions are striking — even bank workers, which is rare. But the conservatives say this won’t stop their market reforms.

In Paris, I’m Erik Campano for Marketplace.

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