Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DEBATE

Iraq's Christians - Nowhere to Run? (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Iraq's Christians - Nowhere to Run?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Towards a "Third Intifada"?

Read more

FOCUS

What solutions for California's overcrowded prisons?

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Gaza conflict: Palestinians mark sombre Eid

Read more

WEB NEWS

Celebrities in the Israel-Gaza crossfire

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Israeli strike takes out Gaza power station

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

French newspaper apologises for Sarkozy story

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Last-ditch talks aim to avert Argentina default

Read more

  • Israel says it is 'days' from completing Gaza tunnel hunt

    Read more

  • Russia defiant as US, EU unveil 'phase three' sanctions

    Read more

  • Argentina fails to reach deal with holdout creditors

    Read more

  • Liberia shuts all schools as Ebola virus spreads

    Read more

  • US House votes to sue Obama for over-reaching his powers

    Read more

  • Suspect in Jewish Museum attack charged with 'terrorist' murder

    Read more

  • Women should not laugh in public, Turkey's deputy PM says

    Read more

  • Fourth female suicide bomber targets Nigerian city

    Read more

  • US rebounds to 4% growth in second quarter

    Read more

  • Video: Coping with rocket attacks in Israel’s Sderot

    Read more

  • Rats on the rampage at Louvre museum gardens

    Read more

  • France evacuates nationals, closes embassy in Libya

    Read more

  • 'Compelling' signs Kosovo leaders trafficked organs, prosecutor says

    Read more

  • Graphic: Ebola spreads across West Africa

    Read more

  • Video: How tourism is helping Rwanda’s gorillas, ex-poachers

    Read more

  • Islamists seize key Benghazi army base as fire rages on

    Read more

France

Students join workers in largest pension protests yet

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-10-13

Students joined workers for a new round of nationwide strikes across France on Tuesday in protest at government plans to overhaul the country's pension system and raise the legal retirement age from 60 to 62.

French students and public sector workers turned out in force on Tuesday as protests against pension reforms intensified across France.
 
Unions said as many as 3.5 million people had taken to the streets across France, while police put the estimate at 1.2 million, the largest turnout in four nationwide
demonstrations over the last five weeks.
 
Rail services, flights and sea ports ran below capacity as the unions kept up their battle. Walkouts reduced flights from Paris's main airports by as much as 50 percent. One in three high-speed TGV trains were running, though international services operated with more frequency.
 
Limited power cuts targeting public buildings were also expected as utility workers joined the strike movement, France's CGT union said in a statement, calling the cuts "symbolic".
 
Youth power
 
Secondary school students in France blocked the entrance to many of their own schools on Tuesday. Their participation has swelled the ranks of the union-led anti-reform movement, which the government has tried to minimize.
 
At midday, France’s interior ministry had identified 357 schools (out of 4302 in France) that had been blocked or significantly disrupted by striking students. The National Union of Secondary School Students (UNL), France’s largest group representing that age group, announced a day of widespread student action.
 
“Sarkozy, you're screwed, the youth is on the street,” hundreds of students chanted in the south-western city of Toulouse, as they joined striking teachers and other state workers who are trying to block Presient Nicolas Sarkozy’s efforts to raise the retirement age.
   
PENSION PROTESTS: THE FIGURES AT NOON
  •  In the western city of Rennes, 22,000 people took to the streets, according to local officials, and 60,000 according to unions, making it the largest demonstration in the city since 2006.
  •  In Marseille, France’s second largest city, police said protesters numbered 24,500, while unions put the figure at 230,000. In the south-eastern city of Grenoble, the rivaling headcounts stood at 14,000 and 72,000 protesters.

 

The government had hoped students would not join the battle over pension reform that has been brewing since May.
 

 

On Tuesday, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon told his party’s lawmakers that it was irresponsible for “the far-left and elements of the Socialist Party” to incite “15 year-olds to join the street protests”, according to AFP.


'No more concessions'
 
Also on Tuesday, Fillon told cabinet ministers the government would make no further concessions to strikers protesting against an increase in the retirement age from 60 to 62.
 
Last week, the proposed bill was amended to add certain exemptions for working mothers, but unions rejected the concessions as inadequate and pressed on with open-ended strikes in several sectors
 
Bernard Thibault, the leader of the CGT, France’s largest union, called attention to the swelling number of people in the streets. “We will continue, the movement is not going to stop because of the senators’ vote,” Thibault told reporters on Tuesday.
 
On Monday, France’s Senate backed a key measure raising the age at which workers can retire with a full pension from 65 to 67.
 
The measure is one of the two main planks of the governmen’t reform package -- the Senate agreed last Friday to raise the minimum retirement age to 62 from 60 -- and means the unpopular bill is closer to becoming law.
 
Across Europe, austerity measures to trim budget deficits have sparked public anger and protests.
 
Sarkozy's flagship pension bill is turning into one of the biggest battles of his presidency, pitting him against powerful unions who crushed a previous attempt to reform pensions in 1995, and weighing on his already low popularity ratings.

Date created : 2010-10-12

  • FRANCE

    At Paris rally, protesters voice their discontent

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    French Senate approves raising retirement age to 62

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Navigating the strike: a traveller’s survival guide

    Read more

COMMENT(S)