NO ADVERTISING, GOVERNMENT OR CORPORATE FUNDING
DONATE TODAY
HOT TOPICS ▶ Climate Change     Undoing The New Deal     The Real Baltimore     Reality Asserts Itself     United Kingdom    


  September 8, 2010

'TWO MILLION' PROTEST IN FRENCH PENSIONS STRIKE


Channel 4: Unions in France say more than two million people have joined a series of nationwide protests
Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here
   


Share to Facebook Share to Twitter


I support the real news because they deal with real issues, not meaningless articles and sound bites - Gary
Log in and tell us why you support TRNN


transcript

Unions in France say more than two million people have joined a series of nationwide protests against plans to increase the retirement age - but many believe the strikes will not change anything, as Lindsey Hilsum discovers.

The 24-hour walk-out has caused chaos for rail and air passengers, schools, hospitals and the postal service. Flights in and out of Paris have been hit by 25 per cent, half of rail and underground services were cancelled.

Union leaders said more people turned out than the previous protest in June, when two million people turned out on the streets.

It was biggest series of demonstrations since President Nicolas Sarkozy came to power in 2007. Dozens of rallies have already been taking place in many cities across France.

International Editor Lindsey Hilsum said: "In Marseilles they beat drums and chanted...In Lyon they turned out despite the rain...In Poitiers they protested with vuvuzelas, left over from France's ignominious exit from the World Cup. And in Quimper, striking farmworkers even got a cow onto the streets."

Bernard Thibault, leader of the other major trade union confederation, the CGT, warned ministers: "If they don't respond and they don't pay heed, there will be a follow-up and nothing is ruled out at this stage."

The protests were timed to coincide with the introduction of Sarkozy's flagship pensions reform bill to parliament. The planned law would raise the retirement age from 60 to 62.

The age at which workers would be entitled to a full pension would also rise by two years to 67 - bringing it into line with the rest of Europe.

But the move is deeply unpopular in France, especially for those working in hard manual jobs.

Several hundred steelworkers in the northeast walked out at an Arcelor Mittal plant to join the protests.

Union representative Edouard Martin said: "We work 365 days a year in extreme conditions. Dust and noise means we are wearing ourselves out and going beyond 60 years old will send us to a certain death."

The latest polls suggest at least two thirds of voters oppose the pensions reforms and support today's protests as President Sarkozy's popularity sinks to a near all-time low.

His pensions minister, Eric Woerth, has been implicated in a scandal over alleged illegal political donations by France's richest woman, the L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt.

Woerth strongly denied the allegations and has refused to resign. But the scandal has served to fuel today's protests - which follow Sarkozy's equally controversial immigration crackdown and the decision to deport thousands of Roma back to Eastern Europe.

But France's conservative government said it has no alternative to the swingeing public spending cuts: claiming it is the only way to balance the pensions account within the next eight to 10 years and tackle France's considerable public deficit.

Lindsey Hilsum said: "President Sarkozy says he remains firm, but might compromise with the unions and keep pensionable age lower for those who start work young or do hard manual labour...

"Opinion polls show two-thirds of voters think it's unfair to rise the retirement age, but they don't believe these strikes will change anything. It's a message to Mr Sarkozy that the French people may have voted him in to bring economic reform, but they resent it nonetheless."



Comments

Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com

latest stories

Korean Peninsula in Historic Peace Talks - Thanks to Activists, Not Trump
Teacher Strikes Continue to Spread - A Symptom of Public Education Underfunding
IMF Says 2018 Economic Outlook is Rosy, But Austerity is Still Needed
Debunking the Myth of American Exceptionalism, with David Swanson
New Student Movement Seeks to Change Hopkins from Within
Corbyn: Does Strike on Syria Justify Bombing Saudi Arabia over Yemen?
Fighting the Oligarchy Inside the Democratic Party
Lopez Obrador's Lead Widens in Mexican Presidential Race Thanks to Trump
Justin Trudeau Vows to Bail Out Profitable Oil Company, Kinder Morgan
Global Warming's Impact on Ocean Currents to Amplify Sea Level Rise
State's Attorney's Race: Thiru Vignarajah on Freddie Gray and Gun Trace Task Force
Defense Stocks Soar as Trump Wages War on Syria
Philippines' Duterte Uses 'War on Terror' Tactics to Crack Down on Leftists
Philippines' Drug War Kills Poor Addicts, Not Rich Dealers
Col. Larry Wilkerson on Syria: War Powers are the 'Surest Way to Tyranny'
Senior Bernie Advisor says 'Bullshit' to Cuomo Campaign Claim It's 'Lockstep' with Sanders
The Perils of Being a Prosecutor and a Politician
France Joins US in a 'Poker Game,' Targeting Iran and Hezbollah
Activists Offer Palestinian and Kurdish Solidarity
Starbucks and the Criminalization of Blackness
Saudi Dictator Dines with French President as Yemenis Starve
State's Attorney's Race: Marilyn Mosby on Tyrone West, Keith Davis and Her Critics
Can a Government Program End Racist Government Practices?
Another Massive Tax Break for Developers? One Key Official Says No
Bolivia's Ex-President Sanchez de Lozada Convicted in US Court for Human Rights Abuses
To Secure Democratic Vote Pompeo Masks Regime Change Agenda
Economic Update: Distorting Economic Truths
The Complex History and Relations of the Kurdish YPG, Syria, and US
Laura Flanders Show: After Hurricane Maria
Israel Mows Down Unarmed Gaza Protesters for 3rd Week as US Blocks UN Investigation

TheRealNewsNetwork.com, RealNewsNetwork.com, The Real News Network, Real News Network, The Real News, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of Independent World Television inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and The Real News Network.

All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network. Click here for more

Problems with this site? Please let us know

Web Design, Web Development and Managed Hosting