A one-day teachers’ strike against plans to cut 5,000 teaching jobs locked millions of French students out of school Monday.
In Paris, 10,000 teachers marched from the Sorbonne university to the Ministry of Education, shouting slogans criticizing a proposed 1997 government budget that would cut jobs across the public sector.
The budget, unveiled earlier in September, calls for strict austerity measures to shrink France’s deficit and bring the economy in line with European Union standards by 1999.
Transportation workers on Monday shut down some regional and suburban train lines ahead of a planned Oct. 17 civil service strike against the austerity measures.
Utility, airline, defense, medical and ambulance employees have staged protests in recent weeks.
The plan to cut 5,000 teaching jobs has angered educators, students and parents who were already complaining that classrooms are overcrowded.
“The draft budget for next year includes major job cuts and the reduction or even the complete end of recruiting young teachers at a time when the national education system is seriously in need,” said Isabelle Voltaire, a high school mathematics teacher who marched in Paris.
Union leader Michel Deschamps said it seems “totally insane” to put young, qualified teachers out of work at such a time.
The Education Ministry said about 56 percent of primary school teachers and 44 percent of high school teachers joined the strike.
The Teachers Union said 60-80 percent of the nation’s 900,000 teachers participated.
Many of the nation’s 63,000 schools were closed, but officials offered no figures. Some of the nation’s 15.4 million students joined in the protests.
A demonstration in Marseille drew an estimated 5,000 people; about 2,000 joined a protest in the western city of Rennes.