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Cracks show in French union unity

Cracks show in French union unity
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Leaders of the big French trade unions have headed the fifth major set of nationwide protests against the government’s handling of the financial crisis. But there were signs of demonstrator fatigue among the ranks – the numbers who marched were a small fraction of those who took part on May Day.

The CGT leader Bernard Thibault said: “We will take the time to analyse the day – the turnout, but also what it can achieve. I hope that we will continue to think hard, and work together towards other gatherings and the work we will have in the coming weeks.” This was the fifth day of multi-union protests since the end of January, and at least one trade unionist had already warned of going too far. Jean Claude Mailly, leader of Force Ouvrière, said: “We warned the other unions to take care with these repeated demonstrations. The time will come when everyone will be ground down. We’re going to make the workers tired of it all.” The unions want the French government to do more to protect those who have jobs, and to boost the wages of the low paid. They also want to see the better-off taxed more – at present President Sarkozy is protecting high earners from tax rates above 50 per cent.
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