Workers in State-controlled banks and savings institutions across France have gone on strike. They're demanding?
MV Head of march, demonstrators carrying banners
SV PAN Demonstrators under umbrellas marching
SV Demonstrators with balloons and banners
GV Demonstrators pass down street
GV Riot police PAN TO Marchers
Initials SC/1801 SC/1816
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Workers in State-controlled banks and savings institutions across France have gone on strike. They're demanding higher wages and improved working conditions to combat the rising cost of living.
Over 15,000 employees, mainly women, are involved. Employees of France's larger banks are already on strike and some have occupied offices in Paris. They were joined by workers in savings institutions and the Post Office Bank on Wednesday (20 March).
Earlier this week, officials of five trade unions met to discuss the situation and plan further action. The trade unionists called for a national demonstration by all bank strikers on Wednesday morning and decided to send a circular to every Member of Parliament outlining their grievances and protesting what they termed "abusive control" by the Ministry of Finance.
The Unions have already written to the Association of Bank Managers explaining their position. According to one union leader, there are already eight million cheques waiting to be cleared in banks -- a task which will take several months to complete.
In the dispute in the public banking sector, negotiations have already drawn to a halt, and so far there have been no arrangements for further talks between unions and management.
The bank dispute has added to the wave of strikes hitting France's service industries. Earlier this week, there was a 24-hour gas and electricity stoppage, and railway unions have rejected as "totally inadequate" the latest management wage offer.