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Strikes in France

In World News on October 28, 2010 at 6:45 pm

By: Kristen Hegel

          Roughly a million French citizens have appeared nationwide, protesting the French government’s plan to push the retirement age from 60 to 62. The reform, passed in September by a 329 to 233 vote, has caused protests and riots throughout the streets of France that began on October 12.

Opposing the new retirement reform, French citizens hold demonstrations thorughout cities in France. Photo courtesy of Google images

            “It was our job to do this reform. It’s to assure that our children can have the same pension benefits that we do,” Eric Woerth, Labor Minister, said. According to French Finance Minister, Christine Lagarde, at the country’s current borrowing rate, they won’t be able to pay their debts. The reform, along with other pensions, came along with a government announcement stating its goal to reduce the deficit from eight to six percent in one year.

            The retirement reform bill has been in debate for the past 50 years. Within the next week, seven senators and seven National Assembly members will meet to make two different bills. From there, each house will vote on either one of the proposed bills. The final vote is expected later this week, according to French Senate spokesman.

            The finance ministry claims that the demonstrations are costing France 200 to 400 million euros ($280 to $560 million) a day. The estimation takes the fuel crisis and impact on foreign investment into account. All of France’s 12 oil refineries were shut down, causing disorder throughout many cities. A spokesman for the French oil industry says the crisis is starting to ease, “None of the fuel depots are blocked anymore and three of the twelve refineries are no longer on strike.” Also, worries of the country’s image being damaged arose, “We shouldn’t be weighing down this recovery with campaigns that are painful for the French economy and very painful for a certain number of small and medium- sized businesses,” Lagarde stated. 

            Tourism in France is also being affected by protesting airline and railway workers. The strikes are disrupting airline and railway trips, causing them to be delayed, even cancelled. Pop star, Lady Gaga, had to push back her tour date in Paris due to the protests. “As a result of the logistical difficulties due to the strikes in France, Live Nation today announced that the Lady Gaga performances in Paris at Bercy, previously scheduled for this Friday and Saturday, 22 and 23 of October, are postponed until 19 and 20 December, 2010,” a tour organizer stated.

            Although much of the chaos has died down, six major French unions are planning nationwide demonstrations on October 28 and November 6. Hopefully, the bill will eventually be accepted or a new proposal of the bill will be passed. According to Energy Minister, Jean- Louis Borloo, the situation was slowly getting better, “we’re headed for improvement.”

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