Workers in France continue with massive protest actions

Workers in France continued to stage massive protest actions throughout the month of October 2010, protesting against the move of the government to raise the minimum retirement age and the age for a full pension.

Workers in France continued to stage massive protest actions throughout the month of October 2010, protesting against the move of the government to raise the minimum retirement age and the age for a full pension.

As already reported, workers in France had carried out week long protests in September 2010, besides participating with other workers in Europe in the “European Day of Action” on September 29, 2010. At the end of the first week of October 2010, the French Senate voted to raise the minimum retirement age to 62 from 60, as the lower house of parliament had done some time ago. The government plans to raise the number of years that a worker has to put in to qualify for full pension to 41.5, one year more than it is now. The workers have pointed out that this is most unfair to all workers, and particularly for those who were unemployed and women who have had to take time off from work for maternity and looking after children.

The French workers continued their struggle vigorously in October, with over 5 million working people coming on to the streets all across the country. Workers from the oil sector together with other workers virtually paralysed movements of oil, causing the authorities to shut down airports as well as train services for extended periods of time. Eleven of twelve refineries had shut down production for weeks on end. The rapid transport system of Paris had shut down for a few days. Truck drivers have staged several overnight protests, including a go-slow on motorways near Lille, Paris and Lyon. Thousands of petrol stations were out of fuel for many days. Airliners flying into the main airports of France were warned to come in with enough fuel to be able to fly out again; several airports were also shut for a few days. Tens of thousands of students joined the protests too, and the police viciously attacked students at a Paris school when students tried to blockade it.

The government has claimed that it was necessary to do all this to save money – some 70 billion Euros –  to prevent the economy from continuing downhill. Workers on the other hand have pointed out that the government is unfairly trying to push the burden of the crisis on the working people. They have boldly made counter proposals, calling for taxes on the highest incomes and on bonuses paid to top managers instead. Following these unrelenting protests, the government has said it would introduce new taxes so that more money could be injected into the pension system and mothers who had taken time off from work would receive pensions.

With their persistent struggles, the workers in France have refused to submit meekly to the government’s plans to make them pay for the crisis; instead, they have boldly asserted their rights and demanded that the rich be made to pay.

 
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