French teachers to join public sector strikes

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PARIS, Oct 23 (Reuters) France's main teaching unions said TOday they would join a November 20 strike to protest against the government's plans to leave 23,000 public sector jobs unfilled next year.

Nearly half the jobs set to disappear are in education.

''With 11,200 job cuts when school returns in 2008, adding to the thousands of jobs that were lost in these last few years ...

a new line has been crossed in the deterioration of education services,'' the five unions said in a statement.

The government wants to reduce the number of public sector workers as part of a money-saving effort that it hopes will lead to a reduction in the budget deficit and make the state more efficient.

President Nicolas Sarkozy's ability to deal with the unions is seen as crucial to his success in pushing through promised reforms which economists say are necessary to boost growth.

Hospital workers and civil servants will also be taking part in the November 20 stoppage.

France's transport system was widely disrupted last Thursday when the main unions called a strike to protest against Sarkozy's planned reform of the generous pension system enjoyed by a minority of public sector workers.

The transport and energy worker unions have threatened more strikes unless the government withdraws the proposed reform.

They will meet at the end of October to decide what to do.

Reuters AK VP0245

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