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EUobserver / Rolling general strike hits France

Massive demonstrations and a rolling strike have hit France in the biggest protest yet against the government's attempt to increase the retirement age from 60 to 62, although Paris insists it will not be moved.

With 3.5 million taking part in the rallies and marches across the country, according to organisers, it beats the 2 million that in 1995 forced a retreat over a similar move and ultimately led to the fall of the government.

Police put the figures at 1.23 million, although in Marseilles, a police union actually attacked the estimate as false, while some police joined the protests in the capital.

Half the flights at Orly Airport and a third of flights at Charles de Gaulle Airport were cancelled. Two thirds of high-speed trains were stilled, although Eurostar reported that its Paris-London service has been uninterrupted.

The country's largest oil port, Fos-Lavera, has been closed for 15 days as a result of industrial action.

by Nomad on Wed Oct 13th, 2010 at 03:46:30 PM EST
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Sarkozy stands firm as pension protests escalate - Europe, World - The Independent

President Nicolas Sarkozy could face the greatest challenge of his presidency in the next few days as a month-old protest against pension reform swells towards outright confrontation.

More than 3 million demonstrators - one in 20 of all French people - marched yesterday against the President's plans to raise the standard retirement age from 60 to 62. Tens of thousands of students joined the marches for the first time, threatening to radicalise the protests and broaden them into a rebellion against a deeply unpopular presidency.

Militant union branches in the railway and oil-refining industries were pushing last night for a showdown with Mr Sarkozy, who has made reform of the loss-making state pension system the make-or-break issue of his final 20 months in office.

by Nomad on Wed Oct 13th, 2010 at 03:47:19 PM EST
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Strike spreads, Marseilles blocked | Presseurop - English
"The demonstration," headlines Libération after the fourth day of protests against the pension reforms in France. Somewhere between 1,230,000 (according to the police) and 3.5 million people (according to unions) took to the streets, including a great many high school and university students. The strike is to continue in certain sectors, including the port of Marseille that supplies six big oil refineries in the south of France. "The strikes are now renewable," reports Libération. "Under the umbrella of a majority-opinion movement, the most determined union activists, although a minority, are trying to block public transport and petrol deliveries. Invented in 1995 at the time of the Juppé reform [also of pensions], the `strike by proxy' is back." More protests are planned, moreover, but the government has let it be known that it will not backtrack on its decision to raise the retirement age to 62.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Oct 13th, 2010 at 04:20:14 PM EST
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