News / Europe

Turnout High for French Protests Against Government

Followers of the CGT Union (General Confederation of Work) attend a protest march in Marseille, southern France, over the government's attempt to raise the retirement age by two years to save money, 12 Oct 2010
Followers of the CGT Union (General Confederation of Work) attend a protest march in Marseille, southern France, over the government's attempt to raise the retirement age by two years to save money, 12 Oct 2010

More than one million people took to the streets of France to protest government plans to increase the retirement age. Governments across Europe are embarking on pension reforms to pay for a growing number of retirees.

Waving banners and chanting slogans against the center-right French government, tens of thousands of people marched through the streets of Paris.  

French unions estimate the number of protesters nationwide at about 3.5 million, authorities estimate about half that number.  The protest, which also disrupted mass transit and flights, is the latest against the French government efforts to raise the legal retirement age from 60 to 62 years.

Polls show the majority of French are against the reforms. They include 53-year-old university protester Alain Neveu, who joined the Paris march with his wife Brigitte.

Neveu says the reforms are unfair.  He believes the government can pay for retirees' pensions by better redistributing France's wealth.

Fabrice and Melanie, both in their '30s, agree.

Fabrice says if the protest hardens the government will have no choice but to listen their demands.

France's center-right government says it has no other choice but to increase the retirement age.  More French are living longer, which means the working population will have to pay for an increasing number of retirees as the years go by.

In remarks to French lawmakers, Prime Minister Francois Fillon called the pension reforms just and reasonable as the government is grappling with a massive public deficit.

He noted French reforms ae modest compared to elsewhere in Europe, where governments have increased retirement age to 65 and even 67.

Analysts like Simon Tilford, of the center for European Reform in London, say the reforms are crucial.  "What we are seeing is essentially a very powerful group of special interests resisting reforms that would be in everyone's interests and which provide one of the least painful ways of reassuring investors about France's public finances," he said.

Tilford believes European governments must take more painful measures than simply increasing retirement age. "Member states, European economies need to go much further than that because we are seeing fewer and fewer workers supporting more and more people in retirement.  So the increase in retirement age needs to go beyond the increase in life expectancy if we are going to square the circle and ensure pension systems are sustainable from a financial point of view," he said.

The French government vows it will push through its reform package by the end of the month.

You May Like

Bleak China Economic Outlook Rattles Markets

Several key European stock indexes were down nearly three percent, while US market indexes were off around two percent in early trading More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs