France braces for mass walk-out
A mass one-day strike by public and private sector workers in France is set to severely disrupt transport, hospital and education services, according to BBC.
Hundreds of thousands of workers are expected to take to the streets to demand more government action to protect their jobs and wages.
Three-quarters of French people and all the main trade unions are backing what the press are calling "Black Thursday".
Air France flights will be cancelled and train services will be disrupted.
The protesters are demonstrating against the worsening economic climate in France and at what they believe to be the government`s poor handling of the crisis.
Last summer, President Nicolas Sarkozy boasted that these days when there is a strike in France, nobody notices, says the BBC`s Emma-Jane Kirby in Paris.
But this time, our correspondent adds, the strike will hit hard.
Schools and post offices will be shut and courts, hospitals and power companies will also be affected.
Many people are angry French banks were given a multi-billion euro bail out while floundering industries and businesses were offered far less help.
With unemployment looking likely to hit 10% by next year, the French are now looking for assurances from their president that he will drop his programme of cost cutting reforms and instead turn his attention to relaunching the ailing economy, our correspondent says.
But French Finance Minister Eric Woerth condemned the strike organisers, accusing them of scare-mongering during a time of economic uncertainty.
"There are other ways to make oneself heard than striking," he said.
"Blocking a country, preventing transport from working, bothering people when they are still extraordinarily worried and fearful of the future, is adding fear on top of fear, worry on top of worry."