Nationwide strike cripples France

France has been in the grip of a wave of strike against economic reform measures set in by the president Nicolas Sarkozy. The transport workers initiated the strike on November 13 against plans to reform pension schemes for public-sector power and transport workers.

At the time of going to press, transport unions, management of the state rail operator and the government were discussing to reach a resolution. The meeting follows a call by Sarkozy to end the mass strike.

The transport workers' strike intensified after civil servants joined them on November 20 to increase pressure on Sarkozy to backtrack on his reforms. The civil servants staged the walk out demanding the government higher salaries and job security.

Over the week, the strike crippled rail services and hampered public transport as well as air traffic. Schools, postal and tax services were also hit after civil servants joined strikers. Students also blocked entrances of university campuses and organized demonstrations protesting a government reform that granted more autonomy to universities.

But the government stood its ground. In a statement, Prime Minister Francois Fillon said that the reforms must go through, even though the strikes cost the government at least us $439.6 million a day.