Wednesday Sep 28, 201103:42 AM GMT
Armies of teachers jolt France's streets
Tue Sep 27, 2011 9:17PM
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Picture shows demonstration in the city of Nantes in western France on September 27, 2011.
Thousands of teachers and their supporters take to the streets across France following a related national strike to protest at the government-ordered job cuts in the education sector.


On Tuesday, more than 165,000 demonstrators took part in over 100 nationwide protests, the Associated Press reported.

The public voiced outrage at French President Nicolas Sarkozy's government, which has shed tens of thousands of education-related positions since 2007 and plans to rid a further 14,000 in 2012.

The measures have caused schools to run into training problems and staff shortages.

The protest action was for the first time joined by private school teachers as well as their public sector colleagues.

According to France's Education Ministry, more than one in four school teachers went on the strike, though, two teachers' unions put the figure at over 50 percent of the workforce.

Sarkozy, however, adopted a comparatively relaxed tone, saying, "I know quite well that there are protests today. It's normal in a democracy."

"But the jobs under threat are not in the public sector - it's jobs in industry, jobs in business, and jobs exposed to competition," he said.

Teachers say endangering the education system as a means of shrinking France's massive red-ink budget will, in the long run, compromise the country's ability to keep up with an educated workforce.

The popular indignation came as the country is gearing up for the next-year's presidential and legislative elections and amid the labor unions' efforts to pile up pressure on the ruling conservatives.

VG/MGH/HN
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