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
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid