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French protests continue over pensions

Tens of thousands rally on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010 against France’s pension reform legislation.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators have returned to the streets across France to protest President Nicolas Sarkozy‘s controversial pension reform legislation.

Over 130 rallies were held across the country on Saturday to protest a government decision to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62.

The largest rally is expected to be held in France’s capital Paris.

French Unions have announced that the ongoing strikes seek to force President Sarkozy to agree to amendments to the pension law.

“Today’s day of protest marks another high point, there will be others,” Bernard Thibault, the head of the General Confederation of Labor Union (CGT) told the French daily L’Humanite, insisting that they would “go on right to the end.”

“For us, the key date is July 1, 2011, when the measures are opposed to come into effect. Between now and then we have a very real chance of creating the kind of strength necessary to open negotiations,” he said.

Meanwhile, other French trade unions have expressed doubts about the effectiveness of the protests.

“If I said today we’re going to force the president to back down, no one would believe me. People would say, ‘That guy there, he’s dreaming,'” AFP quoted Francois Chereque, the leader of the French Democratic Confederation of Labor Union (CFDT), as saying.

President Sarkozy’s pension reform bill was passed by the Senate last week despite nationwide protests. The legislation is now expected to be cleared by France’s Constitutional Council before being signed into law by President Sarkozy.

According to opinion polls, between two-thirds and three-quarters of French people oppose the reforms.


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