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Around 300 record company workers in France went on strike yesterday and rallied near the culture ministry in downtown Paris to express anger at new layoffs, AFP reports.

The music majors, including BMG, EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner, could fire up to 1,000 jobs from the 5,000-strong workforce in the country. The companies say music sales have plummeted 20 per cent this year and 15 per cent last year because of illegal downloading from the Internet.

French unions, however, expressed a different view. They say the record industry has been too slow to adapt to the new trends in music consumption. According to Martine Zulber, an official in the CFDT union which organised the demonstration, most of the music industry's costs went to marketing, advertising and royalties, so "they can't just apply accounting logic to the crisis", she told AFP.

France's culture minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres earlier this year vowed his country will get tough with illegal copiers of music and movies. He wants to see what technical measures can be taken to minimise illegal downloading. Last month at the Cannes Film Festival Donnedieu De Vabres reconfirmed his government would announce a new strategy of "prevention, suppression and communication" to combat the problem. But the Big Plan to end all illegal downloading still hasn’t been unveiled. ®

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