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Sixty to eighty thousand demonstrators from across France, carrying signs saying ‘public services aren’t for sale,’ marched through Paris October 4 to protest their government’s plan to sell stakes it owns in utility companies.

The protest was led by electricity and gas workers but also included employees from partially state-owned companies such as Air France, railway authority SNCF and struggling telecommunications giant France Telecom. Six unions representing employees of Air France joined protesters, as did employees of Paris’s two airports.

The massive demonstration comes as Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin and his center-right government tries to balance France’s deficit to meet European Union standards.

“If the government in France tries to privatize a single public service, it will get its throat cut because the French won’t let them do it,” Jean-Luc Melechon, a protester, told France-Inter radio.