Tuesday, October 19, 2010

France Shuts Down Over Pension Reform Plan

The French lifestyle is under assault and pensioners aren't sitting back and letting the Sarkozy government impose the austerity measures that are designed to prop up the existing system. They're protesting in the streets, and the protests are getting increasingly violent. Indeed, it looks like the carbeque is making its return.

Among the changes are an increase in the retirement age from 60 to 62. Yet, riots have broken out around the country in nationwide strikes that have all but shut down the country. The strikes include major oil refineries, which has put a crimp on the transportation sector, including rail and air travel. Airlines have been told to reduce flights into the country because of scarcity of jet fuel.
Train operator SNCF said it expected 60% of trains to run on Tuesday, the Le Monde newspaper reported, with Metro and local trains around Paris also expected to keep some services running.

Despite the disruption, one opinion poll on Monday suggested that 71% of those surveyed supported the strikers, despite the increasing effect on people's lives.

There was more opposition among those travelling as the strikes began.

"We shouldn't think it's still acceptable to stop working at 60 years old - we should work until 65. Like other European countries we have to work longer than 60 years," insurance worker Frederic Deraed told the BBC's Matthew Price in Lille.

"It's completely useless," said housewife Nadine Gestas.

"We can't pay the pensions and we can't avoid increasing the age of retirement. Every country in Europe is raising the age of retirement."

But Olivier Sekai of the General Confederation of Labour (CGT) said he saw support increasing for the protests.

"The government is acting as if we didn't have a rich country, as if we didn't have the money. The thing is we do have the money," he told the BBC.
Crisis cabinet

The week-long fuel crisis has added a new dimension to France's public discontent.

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