Teachers, other public servants to strike in some 50 cities throughout France

Teachers, tax collectors, museum personnel and other public servants were to strike Thursday in some 50 cities throughout France to protest budget cuts and job cuts and to call for pay hikes.

About half of France's teachers were expected to heed the strike, called by six major labor unions.

In the French capital, railway workers and public servants planned two separate marches. Demonstrations were also expected in another 20 cities around the country.

Unions representing public servants called for the strike in response to the government announcement that 15,000 jobs would be slashed in the public sector in 2007. Strikers were also protesting the 0.8 percent pay raise received by public servants, which unions said was insufficient, reports AP.

Labor leaders said they would keep up pressure on President Jacques Chirac's conservative government even though its current mandate is soon to run out, after presidential elections in April and May.

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