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French Labor Unions Strike Against Pension Changes - 2003-05-13


In France, nationwide strikes disrupted transportation and many other public services Tuesday as labor unions protested government proposals to overhaul the pension system. VOA-TV’s Jim Bertel has details.

With transport workers on strike across France Tuesday, Parisians responded by biking, walking, and riding scooters to work.

The daylong strike was not limited to the transport sector. Teachers, post office workers, and employees of some private sector companies also walked off the job.

Air France cut short and medium-haul flights by 65 percent. And with only minimal service at control towers, other airlines made deep cuts in their service.

The unions are protesting plans by the government of Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin to reform the state sponsored pension system. The government wants to require people to pay more into their plan and for a longer period.

But French government officials say they will pursue reforms of the pension system despite the strikes. Yet they also plan to begin new talks on the reform package with various sectors on Wednesday.

An effort to revamp the retirement system in 1995 was abandoned following a wave of strikes that lasted three weeks.