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.
demonstrations over the last five weeks.
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".
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.
If the walls of Paris could talk, they would tell the story of a city simmering with political frustration. Here, in Paris’s 3rd arrondissement (district), is a sticker of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, with “Enough!” written on his forehead. (Photos: Rachel Holman)
Nearby on the Boulevard du Temple, one of many pedestrian poles tagged with a sticker calling for "Social justice" and a "General strike".
On the Paris Metro's line 4, which runs from Porte d’Orleans in the south to Porte de Clignancourt in the north, an ad-hoc sign urges "Retirement: No to this unjust reform!"
A billboard at the foot of Montmartre plastered with posters calling for "Strike until victory!", "Retract the law on retirement," and one picturing Sarkozy next to embattled Labour Minister Eric Woerth on a 500-euro bill saying "Out! Because they're worth nothing".
Back in the 3rd arrondissement, an exhibit features pictures of a French retirement home for artists, meant to "force us to confront the image of our society in the face of old age, at a time when the debate over retirement reform seems is focused solely on economics."
A store window on rue Jean Pierre Timbaud in the 11th district displays a picture of Adolf Hitler, saying: "Me too, I began like that with the Roma, before exterminating one million of them in the concentration camps. Make a little effort Nicolas".
In the same window display is another photo depicting Sarkozy as General Philippe Petain, head of France’s Vichy government, which collaborated with Nazi Germany. The words above and below the image read “Son of Petain”.
On Avenue Parmentier, in the 11th arrondissement, a school banner says: “Solidarity school: families of undocumented immigrants must be regularised”. Many are frustrated by France's refusal to grant papers to immigrant parents whose children attend French state school.
Many schools feel they are unfairly excluded from the Priority Education Zones or ZEPs, whereby educational institutes are eligible for extra resources. On rue Christiani, in the 18th arrondissement, a school banner demands “ZEP! Why not us?”
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.
Date created : 2010-10-12