Strike to close down French embassies

28th November 2003, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 28 (AFP) - Unions calling for the first ever worldwide strike by French diplomats said Friday that they expect a big turn-out on December 1, with at least 40 embassies and consulates closing for the day.

PARIS, Nov 28 (AFP) - Unions calling for the first ever worldwide strike by French diplomats said Friday that they expect a big turn-out on December 1, with at least 40 embassies and consulates closing for the day.

"According to the soundings we're getting, it's going well -- there's a lot of support," said Danielle Vazeille of the CGT union.

"It's a bit too early to say exactly what will happen on Monday but the indications are that it will be a big success," said Yvan Sergeff of the UNSA union.

Six unions are calling for a day of strikes by the ministry's 9,200 permanent staff and 13,000 local employees around the world to protest against budget cuts that have led to job losses, axed cultural programmes and tight restrictions on foreign allowances.

On Thursday evening Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin took the unusual step of addressing a meeting of several hundred employees at the Quai d'Orsay, in which he conceded that "circumstances are difficult" and promised to give the strikers' grievances full consideration.

"Employees do not understand how the president of the republic and the government can proclaim their grand ambitions for France on the international scene while at the same time the human and financial resources available to the ministry are constantly declining," the unions said in a statement.

France's foreign ministry oversees an international network second only to that of the United States. In addition to 154 embassies there are 98 consulates, and nearly 500 cultural offices and French-language schools.

The ministry's lack of resources was embarrassingly exposed last month when the company that supplies the ministry with paper refused to make a new delivery till its account was cleared.

© AFP

                                                                Subject: French news

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