STRIKES AND protests are erupting across France in the run up to Christmas. The implementation of the new 35 hour week law lies behind many of the disputes. Workers are demanding that bosses pay for the hours cut.
The Socialist Party led coalition government passed the 35 hour law. It was a key part of the manifesto which saw the left swept to office two years ago. The government has had to deliver under pressure from below. But it has sought to water down the pledge and the bosses are trying to cut workers' pay to make up for shorter working hours.
Socialist Party prime minister Lionel Jospin remains popular despite the social discontent. But a corruption scandal is rocking his party and government. The Socialist Party's second in command, as well as the party's Paris and Marseilles chiefs, have had to step down while allegations of illegal funding are investigated.
Strikes and protests in the last week include:
About 30,000 unemployed workers, supported by trade unionists, demonstrated in Marseilles demanding government action on jobs and a £300 Christmas bonus.
Some 25,000 bank workers marched in Paris over wages and jobs on Tuesday of last week. A one day strike shut many banks across the country.
Monaco, the independent principality in the south of France, saw one of its biggest protests for years as 3,500 people marched over the 35 hour week. All demonstrations are illegal in Monaco.
Firefighters staged a national strike in defence of their right to retire at 50.
A series of bitter strikes and conflict in TV and radio stations, which had blanked out programmes, wound down with workers winning many of their demands.
Refuse workers in some cities, notably Lille and Grenoble, have been out over demands related to the 35 hour week.
Hospital workers in several Paris hospitals are extending their strikes, demanding more jobs and better funding.
Several dozen major cities were without bus and metro services as workers took action over the 35 hour week.
Some 500 workers blockaded the entrance to the Ascom Monetel factory in central France.
Shop workers at the prestigious Parisian department stores have been staging protests. Distribution workers for one of the country's key book chains, FNAC, have been on strike.
This discontent and action has pushed the Communist Party, the Greens and most left wing parties to call a new national day of action on Saturday.