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Another 24-hour nationwide strike has begun in France, in protest against government plans to raise the country’s retirement age from 60 to 62.

Train drivers in Paris were the first to stop work as transport workers throughout the country plan to disrupt rail and air travel – some major unions are even proposing open ended disruption.

They are expected to be joined by workers throughout the French economy with support for the action appearing widespread.

Street protests are being planned for later today as well as on Saturday – last month such action was backed by over one million demonstrators.

In Marseilles – a key Mediterranean oil port – a strike by dockers has entered its third week forcing a partial shut-down of a major refinery ahead of today’s national stoppage .

The union action is being seen as crunch time for the government and President Sarkozy whose pension age hike is a major part of his budget reforms.

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