News / Europe

French Senate Passes Controversial Retirement Bill

A demonstrator holds a trade union flag as French riot police officers secure the area at the Bordeaux train station, southwest France, Friday Oct. 22, 2010, during a demonstration against President Nicolas Sarkozy's bid to raise the retirement age to 62.
A demonstrator holds a trade union flag as French riot police officers secure the area at the Bordeaux train station, southwest France, Friday Oct. 22, 2010, during a demonstration against President Nicolas Sarkozy's bid to raise the retirement age to 62.

Multimedia

Jennifer Glasse

The French Senate has passed a controversial pension reform bill that has sparked protests and strikes throughout France. Actions by workers and students have crippled transport, shut down high schools and universities and caused gas shortages. Unions are calling for more protests, even as the bill moves towards becoming law.

French police re-taking control of a refinery outside Paris. Workers had blockaded the compound to protest a retirement reform law. For two weeks, union members across France have targeted refineries and fuel depots, causing widespread gas shortages. The government has ordered police to break up the blockades and get fuel moving.

The government intervened in France's Senate too, using an emergency procedure to force an early vote on the reform law. Many senators had wanted to keep debating, in deference to the public outcry.

Polls here show 70 percent of the people do not approve of the bill. It would raise the retirement age by two years to 62, and full retirement to 67.  There  have been a number of demonstrations and strikes against it since September.

Unions have called for more days of action, next Thursday and the following week. They vowed to continue public disruptions until the government agrees to meet with them and discuss reform.

But some of the protests have turned violent, which could pose a problem for the unions and others who want public support against the reforms to grow.

Pollster Francois Miquet-Marty said "It's clear that the French support this social movement, but do not want radicalization. That is to say, they want a social movement that is peaceful and soothing."

Miquet says polls show just over half the population opposes the decision to block refineries and spark a fuel shortage.

In Paris, government officials met with oil industry officials to discuss how to ease the problems caused by the blockades and  striking oil workers. Government officials say little by little things are getting better.

Environement Minister Jean Louis Borloo said "I notice the progressive improvement of the situation and our job is to make sure we provide fuel for the whole country."

The government says there will not be any gas rationing.

However, ships carrying oil are unable to dock in Marseilles because strikers are blocking the port. Garbage collectors are on strike too. It is the beginning of a long school vacation here, that could reduce the pool of demonstrators for actions scheduled next week.

Much will depend on what frustrates the French more - the government's reforms, or the inconvenience caused by weeks of striking.

 

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid