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Student riots against pension reform continue in France

10-21-2010 16:15 BJT

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In France, protests have turned violent ahead of a Senate vote on pension reform.

Clashes between student protestors and the police continued in Lyon on Wednesday afternoon, as shop windows were smashed, bins set alight and bottles thrown at police.

Rioters ran through the streets of the southeastern French city, kicking in shop fronts and smashing car windows. Some had scared passengers sitting inside.

Riot officers sprayed tear gas but appeared unable to stop the violence.

Residents are fed up.

Mr. Piot, Store Owner, said, "We've had enough, we've had enough with these hooligans."

After months of largely peaceful disruptions, many protests erupted into violence this week as President Nicolas Sarkozy vowed that his conservative party would pass the reform in a Senate vote expected on Thursday.

Sarkozy has long touted his plan to increase the retirement age as his priority reform ahead of the 2012 presidential elections. The measure is expected to be passed easily in the Senate, after being approved earlier by the lower house of parliament.

Students were planning new protests on Thursday, with a demonstration in Paris hours before the Senate vote.

Currently, France's social benefits include long holidays, contracts that make it hard for employers to lay off workers and a state-subsidised health care system. Many workers feel the proposed change would be a first step toward what they call "American-style capitalism."

 

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