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IN THE PRESS

An overview of the stories making the French and international newspaper headlines. From Monday to Friday live at 7.20 am and 9.20 am Paris time.

Latest update : 2010-09-06

France goes on strike in protest against pension reform plans

In today's French newspapers, a huge row has broken out between the government and unions over plans to raise the retirement age.

There’s one story on all France’s front pages today- pension reform.

 

The government is pushing a bill through Parliament to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62, and the unions are promising to fight it tooth and nail with a general strike planned for tomorrow promising millions of people will take to the streets in protest.

 

Left leaning paper Libération backs the demonstrators- their editorial says the government may not be able to pass the reform, as they are at the centre of a perfect storm.

 

The paper says the governing Ump is divided and the French are angry for two reasons- one at the economic unfairness of pensioners on low incomes having to pay for financial crisis- but also the perceived lack of morals in the French political class after a series of corruption scandals – the worst of which has of course been the problems of Labour minister Eric Woerth.

 

The paper says these two problems make an explosive mix that could be lethal for the government.

 

Le Figaro’s front page says it’s a decisive week for a vital reform.

 

The more right leaning paper says the reform is demographically necessary because of ageing population, it’s not ideological, and claims most French people have already accepted they will have to work longer.

 

The editorial says the reform is the only way to preserve the French welfare state and the left should realise there is no other alternative.

 

Aujourd’hui en France says it’s the moment of truth for the government- according to the paper 62% of French people back the strikers and 71% think the government will have to back down-

 

But they point out ministers don’t seem to be taking the protests too seriously thus far – education minister Luc Chatel asked journalists last week “Can you remember a time when the unions weren’t angry” and the paper’s cartoon shows President Sarkozy telling Prime Minister François Fillon “When there is a strike I don’t even notice” and Fillon replies “neither do I, there are so many”

 

Aujourd’hui en France also points out that the French will still have the lowest retirement age in Europe even after the reform- it’s 65 across most of the continent.

 

It’s the beginning of term at French schools- aand Aujourd’hui en France is worried about new students starting high school being subjected to hazing rituals-

 

Something we associate more with American university freshmen-

 

But apparently in French schools older students are forcing younger ones to go through embarrassing rituals like washing their hair with eggs.

 

10% of pupils say they suffered something like this- although of course many will be embarrassed to admit it- and schools say they’ll be watching students closely to try and stop it from happening.

 

The French football team is also back in the headlines- former coach Raymond Domenech has got his redundancy papers but the team is doing no better without him-

 

They lost to Belarus in Euro 2012 qualifying on Friday-

 

And Le Figaro is asking itself just what’s wrong with the team.

 

It says new coach Laurent Blanc has inherited an awful atmosphere after the World Cup- and Euro 2012 qualification could already be in danger if the team doesn’t beat Bosnia Herzegovina in Sarajevo tomorrow night.

 

The paper says French football has lost a generation because most of its young players play for French clubs who don’t often reach the world class levels of the Champions League- so maybe French club football needs to improve before the national team can.

 

 

And finally in Lyon a church gargoyle has become the centre of controversy- Liberation says masons were renovating an eight hundred year old church and one of them sculpted a gargoyle with the face of his boss.

 

This is making the news because the boss is Muslim- and right wing groups say Muslims shouldn’t be sculpted in a church.

 

The local priest defends the gargoyle to the paper though- saying it’s an ecumenical gesture to help bring Christians and Muslims together.

By Elena CASAS

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