French public strike to protest pension reform

19:37, September 07, 2010      

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Called by major unions, French people across the country walked off jobs on Tuesday protesting the ongoing pension reform pushed forward by President Nicolas Sarkozy, which has heavily hit national traffic since Monday night.

The big national day of strike started Monday by secondary school teachers, which meanwhile protesting job cutting.

One teachers' union Snuipp said 62 percent of teachers would go on strike on Tuesday, but Education Ministry announced a percentage of near 30 percent in the morning.

According to a statement by French national railway company SNCF, workers' strike would last from 20:00 Monday night to 8:00 Wednesday morning, affecting trains linking French regions and neighboring countries except for England, because Eurostar traffic remained normal.

Though minimun service in transport for passengers is guaranteed, the state-owned company promised unconditional refund for commuters affected by the strike. Paris public traffic, air traffic are also partially canceled.

Air France announced 90 percent of flights from Paris Charles de Gaulle would not be interrupted but around 50 percent from Orly would risk cancellation.

Besides, as air traffic controllers are planned to join the 24-hour strike, the French Civil Aviation Authority also limited flights, affecting many airliners to France.

French government is pushing to raise the minimun retirement age from 60 to 62 in 2018 and prolong the full pension retirement age to 65. Despite of long propaganda for the reform, most workers didn't buy the plan.

Union organisers expected to mobilize at least 2 millions of people to demonstrate across France as the reform bill is due to present to congress for debate this night.

"The only chance today ... to change the reform... is to be numerous in the street on Tuesday," Francois Chereque, leader of one major union CFDT, said to France 24.

Many public servants, postmen, workers with energy supplier EDF and hospital servicemen will also take part in the walk-out.

A weekend poll showed that over 50 percent of French people support the pension reform, but another poll by Ifop for Ouest France illustrated that 70 percent of the public support the strike.

Source: Xinhua


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