Fresh strike mobilizes 3 mln protesting France's pension reform

10:49, September 24, 2010      

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  Private and public sector workers demonstrate during a nationwide strike over pension reforms in Paris September 23, 2010. France has finished its second day of massive protests in a month, with up to 3 million people out on the streets on Thursday expressing their anger against the government's retirement reform.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)


  France has finished its second day of massive protests in a month, with up to 3 million people out on the streets on Thursday expressing their anger against the government's retirement reform.

  Over 230 protestings took place across the country, with the capital suffering most in all public sectors such as railways, airports, postal service, and schools.

  In Paris and its surrounding suburb (namely Ile-de-France), train commuters started rushing home since Wednesday evening as the railway unions kicked off the strike at 8 p.m. local time.

  According to the national rail company SNCF, regional and national trains, including the high-speed TGV, had 25 percent to 50 percent trains in service on Thursday.

  Metros and suburb trains (RER) in Paris had slowed down too. Among the 16 metro lines, 4 lines were 20 percent in service; buses were operating every 3 out of 4 scheduled and trams were close to normal.

  Half of the flights in Paris southern suburb Orly Airport had been canceled because of the strike of airport controller, while one plane out of four in the northern suburb Charles de Gaulle Airport did not operate either.

  Air France stated no flights of long-haul flights were affected.

  It was reported that 16.5 percent of postal service workers and 25 percent of pubic school teachers followed the strike. Civil Service Ministry revealed 21.44 percent of civil servants refused to work during the day.

  French labor unions estimated close to 3 million people joined the walkout and street protests on Thursday, but official figure according to the Interior Ministry showed less than a million.

  Nevertheless, unions claimed a huge success and better result than last national strike two weeks before.

  There recorded 31,000 protesters in Nantes, 22,000 in Strasbourg, 60,000 in Montpellier and 65,000 in Paris. This is the second massive strike since September 7 when between 1.1 million and 2.7 million people took part in.

  The pension reform bill was already passed in the National Assembly, French lower house of parliament, raising the minimum legal retirement age from age 60 to 62 in 2018.

  Other measures of the new retirement bill proposed by right wing President Nicolas Sarkozy include changing from age 65 to 67 for obtaining full scale pension, and from 40 to 42 years as the legal period of tax paying working years.

  France is suffering a pension deficit of over 30 billion euros (39.9 billion U.S. dollars) and the government refused to withdraw the bill, stressing it is imminent to save the country from going broke.

  Public opinions say Sarkozy is taking a dangerous step to restore support especially facing the 2012 presidential election. However, his approval rate has dropped to the lowest of 34 percent since January this year.


Source: Xinhua


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