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Government and unions argue French strike turnout

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Government and unions argue French strike turnout


The government and unions are disputing turnout in today’s general strike, the fourth in five weeks, called to protest against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s pension reforms.

It has hit travellers the hardest. 50 percent of flights at Paris’ Orly have been cancelled, and 30 percent have been grounded at Charles de Gaulle airport.

The Parisian underground and rail traffic has also been badly hit, making the morning commute difficult, but some expressed vocal support for the protest.

“It’s now or never because the stakes are decisive. What I mean is that if we really want retirement at 60 then we have to make a show now,” said one traveller.

The government says 16.5 percent of postal workers have stayed at home, the unions claimed 30 percent. For those trying to get to work, there was always the bike, and some of them are resigned to change they see as inevitable.

“I think that there’s no other solution than to do what other European countries do, and start retiring at 67,” said one cyclist.

Many free-access bikes in Paris are carrying adverts for the “Stop strikes” movement, so those beating the stoppage are also flying the flag for those opposed to public-sector strikes.

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