A NATIONWIDE strike by French public sector workers has hit schools, hospitals and public services and caused disruptions for domestic air traffic.

Nine public sector unions called for industrial action to protest against President Emmanuel Macron’s economic policies which they say would result in deteriorating work conditions. The unions are angry at plans to tighten rules for sick leave, freeze salaries and decrease the number of public sector employees in the next five years.

Air France said about 25 per cent of domestic flights would be cancelled due to a walkout by traffic controllers.

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The airline expects to run all long-haul flights to and from Paris airports.

The education ministry said about 17 per cent of teachers across the country were on strike. Some school canteens and nurseries were closed, and several high schools in Paris shut because students were blocking the entrances in solidarity with the unions.

“They unravel all the social protections supposed to protect the weakest and the workers,” said Sandrine Amoud, a teacher on strike in Paris.

Railway traffic is expected to be close to normal.

Jean-Claude Mailly, secretary general of the FO union, called on Macron to stop “austerity” policies towards public servants during a protest in the city of Lyon.