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France grinds to a halt over pension reform

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France grinds to a halt over pension reform


Millions of French workers took to the streets on Tuesday in protest over President Sarkozy’s pension reform bill.

Sarkozy wants to raise the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62 and up the age at which workers can retire on full pensions from 65 to 67.

The move has infuriated the unions. Bernard Tibaut, leader of the CGT union, said: “We have an increasingly large support with participation that is stronger than ever. There is no need to give up on this fight.”

The streets of the southern city of Marseilles throbbed to the sound of protest as tens of thousands gave the thumbs down to Sarkozy’s plans.

Not all the demonstrators were close to retirement age.

One student explained: “The students are striking today for their future and to ensure they will have jobs to go to. That is why we are here today to protest because we don’t agree with the reforms.”

As many as 300 schools and colleges were picketed as pupils added their voice to the growing defiance.

Walkouts by airport staff reduced air traffic by 50 per cent at the three main airports in Paris.

The capital’s underground trains ran a limited service and the Eiffel Tower was closed due to a lack of staff.

The unions plan another strike for 16 October, which will be the fifth since September, but the government is adamant that there will be no backing down.

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