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Worker strikes in France continued this week as many employees are demanding better pay amid concerns of a bitter winter ahead in Europe exacerbated by record inflation and the energy crisis, the Washington Post reported.
Strikes initially began weeks ago when workers in oil and gas companies walked out demanding higher salaries, arguing that their employers had gained significant profits from Europe’s soaring energy prices – a trend being driven by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Those strikes resulted in severe fuel shortages that caused nearly a third of the country’s gas stations to run out of some type of fuel by Sunday.
But on Tuesday, workers from other industries – including rail and nuclear power plants – and high school students joined a nationwide strike to protest the rising cost of living and an increase in pay.
One of the unions leading the strikes said more than 180 protests took place around France, with 70,000 people marching in the capital, Paris – figures that the government has disputed.
Despite calls for better pay, the walkouts also reflect broader discontent and worries over how to afford mounting household bills this winter.
The French government has taken steps to mitigate the impact of rising energy prices, including subsidizing gasoline prices and energy bills. However, the prices of many basic goods continue to increase.
Observers noted that France’s efforts were bolder than those of other countries, but the ongoing frustration underscores questions about whether the government’s initiatives will be enough in the long run.
Tuesday’s strike has been compared to the 2018 yellow vest protests, which were prompted by proposed tax rises but grew to encompass issues about social inequality.