France unites against Sarkozy's handling of economic crisis

Huge crowds have taken to the streets in France to protest over the handling of the economic crisis, causing disruption to rail and air services.

Unions said 2.5m workers had rallied to demand action to protect wages and jobs. Police put the total at 1m.

President Nicolas Sarkozy said concerns over the crisis were legitimate and the government had to listen and act.

He will meet union and business leaders next month to discuss what programme of reforms to follow this year, he said.

Overall, the government estimated that a quarter of the country's public sector workers had joined the action, which was called by eight major French unions. The unions put the figure higher.

A spokesman for the CGT union told AFP that 2.5m people across the country had taken part in the day's protests. French police put the number at just over 1m.

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