Strikes slow down simmering France

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October 12, 2010 19:06

French workers demonstrate on October 12, 2010 in Toulouse southern France to protest against President Nicolas Sarkozy's austerity plans. Photo - Eric Cabanis/AFP/Getty Images

Who: French workers.

What: French public and private sector employees staged a one-day strike against Sarkozy administration’s austerity plans including the controversial move to raise the retirement age and pension reforms. It was the fourth major action against the French government’s measures in a month.

Where: Rail, sea port, oil refineries and flight workers went on strike across the country while the Paris Metro operated at its minimum speed. Paris’ airports also faced flight cancellations and delays while its famous landmark The Eiffel Tower remained shut.

When: The strike action was started yesterday by train drivers while 330,000 protestors marched across French streets today.

Why: French workers are challenging government’s plans of raising the standard minimum retirement age from 60 to 62, and the age for a full state pension to 67 from 65. “I’m prepared to extend the strike. I started working at 17 and now I’m 50 and I’m starting to get really fed up with it,” said a cement worker in central French town of Angouleme. France, like other European governments, is looking at austerity measures while trying to decrease a massive deficit. The country needs to improve its finances as it tries to retain a AAA credit rating that enables loans at a lower interest rate.

How: French labour unions have threatened to extend their industrial action indefinitely and force other workers to join their ranks. According to public opinion polls, 69 per cent people supported the new strike, while 61 per cent supported a “continuous and lasting” action.

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