French workers strike again against Sarkozy

This is a video from France of workers demonstrating against Sarkozy.

From Al Jazeera:

French trade unions have launched another set of strikes in protest over an unpopular pension reform, with workers staging a 24-hour walkout.

Unions are hoping for an even bigger turnout than protests earlier this month, which saw between one and three million people taking to the streets.

Demonstrators are hoping to pressure Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, to overturn plans to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62.

A second round of strikes against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plan to raise the retirement age to 62 has hit France: here. And here.

2 thoughts on “French workers strike again against Sarkozy

  1. France faces more mass protests against retirement at 62

    By Rory Mulholland (AFP) – 21 hours ago

    PARIS — French unions stage another day of mass street protests and strikes Thursday to challenge President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plan to hike the retirement age from 60 to 62.

    Sarkozy, already under attack from the European Union for deporting Roma and from the media over a lingering financial scandal, is facing fierce opposition to his pension reform plans but says he will press on regardless.

    The issue is central to both his reform programme and his personal political survival strategy, with less than two years to go before he seeks re-election.

    More than a million French workers took to the streets two weeks ago to fight the reforms and now unions are hoping for an even bigger day of demonstrations on Thursday to keep the right to retire at the age of 60.

    But the pension reform bill has already been passed by France’s lower house of parliament and will be examined from October 5 by the upper house, which is expected to pass it easily.

    “If the government remains deaf yet again, we will go further,” said CFDT union leader Francois Chereque, while Bernard Thibault of the CGT union warned of “heightened tension if the government remains inflexible.”

    Some unions are mulling calling a general strike if their demands are ignored.

    The walkouts will hit schools and transport hardest, with only around one train in two running nationally, although Eurostar services to London and Thalys trains to Brussels are predicted to be normal.

    The rail slowdown was due to start on Wednesday evening and continue until early Friday.

    Fifty percent of flights at Paris Orly will be cancelled and 40 percent at the capital’s Charles de Gaulle airport — higher than the 25-percent of cancelled flights on September 7, said the DGAC civil aviation authority.

    Around 40 percent of flights at other airports will be cancelled, it said.

    French men and women can under current rules retire at 60, but they only get a full pension if they have paid social security contributions for a given period, which for most people now in work is 40.5 years.

    Under the new law, the number of years needed to get a full pension is due to increase in stages to 41.5 years, and the minimum retirement age is to go up to 62.

    The age at which retirees can get a full state pension even if they have not paid the required number of years is currently 65; the new law calls for this to increase gradually to 67 by 2018.

    Unions and opposition politicians say the plan puts an unfair burden on workers. They have made counter proposals including calls for taxes on certain bonuses and on the highest incomes to help fund the pension system.

    The law particularly penalises anybody who is unable to work the full 40 or 41 years — a population which includes a huge proportion of women.

    The government argues that the reform could save 70 billion euros (90 billion dollars) by 2030 at a time when France’s public deficit — at around eight percent of GDP — is well above the eurozone target of three percent.

    Sarkozy said earlier this month that “there is no question of backtracking” on the retirement age.

    But he did offer some sweeteners, promising exceptions for those who start work younger than 18 and for certain physically demanding jobs.

    A survey carried out for the CGT union and published Tuesday in the communist newspaper L’Humanite said 70 percent of French opposed raising the retirement age.

    That was more bad news for a president fighting battles on several fronts.

    Sarkozy, whose poll ratings are at rock bottom, got into an ugly row last week at an EU summit over his orders to French police to dismantle Gypsy camps and expel foreign-born travellers.

    And he has been under intense media scrutiny for months for a complex affair surrounding France’s richest woman, L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, who has been linked to alleged illegal funding of Sarkozy’s campaign.

    Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved


  2. Greeks protest outside court

    Greece: More than 1,000 public service contract workers have demonstrated outside Greece’s parliament and Supreme Court in the latest protest against a labour shake-up in the crisis-hit country.

    Protesters at Thursday’s peaceful rally are demanding permanent contracts and full employment benefits, despite a 2010 state hiring freeze. Contract workers’ groups are currently fighting the government in court, with the Supreme Court due to hear a landmark case on January 20.

    Thousands protest against cuts

    Romania: Thousands of health, education and social welfare employees protested in Bucharest against wage cuts and austerity measures.

    A day earlier, 10,000 other workers had also protested, demanding that wages return to the 2009 level and layoffs of public workers stop.

    The government has enforced swingeing austerity measures this year, slashing public-sector wages by a quarter and raising sales tax.


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