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France hit by strikes as pension protests escalate

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France hit by strikes as pension protests escalate


France is caught in a whirl of industrial action as workers across a number of sectors down tools again to fight plans to raise the retirement age to 62.

Trains and the Paris metro face a week of disruption as teachers, truck drivers and postal workers discuss joining the growing disquiet.

Unions are threatening open-ended stoppages.

Aviation has also been affected following walk-outs by airport workers.

Still the strikes are backed by the majority of the French.

“I will get up earlier to go to work, we must support the people who are on strike, it is for a good cause, we are all with them,” said one commuter.

Political activists who support the action feel the tide is turning in their favour, Olivier Besancenot is the leader of the New Anti-Capitalist Party:

“We have the rail workers on strike and one gets the feeling that young people are joining the movement, it’s beginning to feel like 1995 when they defeated the cutbacks of (former prime minister) Alain Juppe.”

France risks fuel shortages as refineries join in. Oil terminals in Marseille have already been on strike for two weeks.

Pension reform is key for President Sarkozy as he attempts to reign in the country’s public deficit.
With most of his reforms already approved this week is seen as crunch time for both the president and the unions.

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