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France unions protest against retirement age reform

10-03-2010 10:20 BJT

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Students, workers and retirees have demonstrated across France, in an attempt to pressure President Nicolas Sarkozy to drop plans that will raise the age of retirement from 60 to 62.

It was the third day of protests in a month.

The weekend protest brought more people onto the streets, including families, students and private-sector employees.

Organizers are hoping that a high youth turnout will convince the government that even people who don't generally think about old age are worried about the reform.

Philippe Chouquet, Demonstrating Father, said, "Their future is also at stake. Our future, their future, so we have to demonstrate."

Matteo Pelloiseaux, Demonstrating Son, said, "President Sarkozy makes us work too late, and he only has bad ideas."

The government insists that people need to work longer because they are living longer.

But French unions see the right to retire at 60 as a firmly entrenched right in a country, in addition to generous state benefits.

They deny the government's claims that support for their protest movement is waning.

Jean-Claude Mally, Head of Force Ouvriere Trade Union, said, "Opinion polls show that an increasing number of people are against this reform. So it means that people understand what is happening, they are not stupid."

In Paris, tens of thousands of protesters marched toward the site of the former Bastille prison, one of the world's most famous revolutionary sites.

Large protests also took place in Lyons and the southern city of Marseille.

The government has expressed willingness to alter some parts of the final language of the bill, but union leaders say their offers aren't enough.


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