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France once more in the grip of protests

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France once more in the grip of protests
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Protestors have hit the streets of France for the sixth day of nationwide strikes and protests against plans to reform the country’s pension law.

But this is the last-ditch challenge.

The final vote on the unpopular reform, which among other things, raises the age of retirement by two years, is due in the next few days.

The unions are determined.

“The head of state and the government cannot just push ahead with something as important as retirement reform while three quarters of the country are backing our action.” said Bernard Thibault of the biggest union, the CGT.

The opposition have also been out in force.

“The one person who could stop all this tomorrow if he wanted to is the President. All he has to do is go along with what the unions want, do what we are asking, and suspend the debate in the Senate.” said Socialist Party leader Martine Aubry.

The unions say three and a half million people joined today’s demonstrations, the same number as a week ago.

The government esimated that there were 1.1 million out on the streets.

Most analysts are predicting that the legislation will pass and the protests will fizzle out.

The unions, however, which defeated pension and labour reforms with strikes in 1995 and 2006, say they will press on regardless.