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French strike over pension reforms heats up

[ 2010-10-19 13:03]     字号 [] [] []  
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French truck drivers said they would block key roads beginning on Sunday evening and rail unions announced new strikes from Monday, putting fresh pressure on President Nicolas Sarkozy over his unpopular pension reform.

New action by truckers and rail workers, continuing strikes by refinery workers and the threat of more street marches in the drive to force Sarkozy to scrap the reform before a crucial Senate vote, make this a make-or-break week for him.

Sarkozy has vowed not to give in throughout months of opposition to his plan to raise the retirement age and rein in a ballooning pension deficit. The powerful unions, which have a history of crushing reform, have vowed to match his resolve.

"If we do nothing ... the system will explode," Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux told LCI television, as the government kept up its appeal to a public that feels it is being unfairly punished for failures in the social security system.

Petrol pumps are drying up, truckers said they would block key roads from Sunday evening, and after a day of disrupted trains, rail unions agreed new strikes on Monday that could halt two-thirds of regular trains and half the express TGV.

A fresh nationwide march against the pension reform - which would raise the minimum and full retirement ages by two years to 62 and 67 - was set for Tuesday, testing Sarkozy's determination to stand by a key policy.

"The right to strike is not the right to prevent access to a fuel depot. This is an illegal action," Prime Minister Francois Fillon said on TF1.

"I will not let the country be blocked. I will not let the French economy be choked by a blockade of fuel supplies," he added.

Panic-buying by motorists sucked dry petrol pumps across France, though many hoped for fresh deliveries on Monday. Oil company Total said 350 to 400 of its petrol stations were suffering supply disruptions.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

French strike over pension reforms heats up

About the broadcaster:

French strike over pension reforms heats up

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.