A one-day strike has caused disruption to schools and public services across France on Thursday. But by midday it looked like the protest had attracted less support than similar days of action last year.
Fewer than 20 per cent of teachers stopped work, said the government. The unions put the figure at 40 per cent.
The strike, backed by several unions, was against job cuts and reforms to the public sector.
“Many of those who leave to take retirement are not replaced,” said one demonstrator. “So our colleagues have more and more problems. Instead of having six people on a particular job we find there are only three, but with the same amount of work to do.”
By not replacing one in every two posts when someone retires, thousands of jobs have been cut over the last couple of years.
Thursday’s strike aimed to highlight cuts to teaching posts – down by 50,000 since 2007 – as well as a lack of supply teachers and changes to teacher training.
One mother said she was taking her child to work with her, because there was no other solution.
The protests affected schools in more than 100 French towns and cities. Under a law guaranteeing minimum service, many districts were obliged to organise back-up centres to take in children.