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French Unions Stage New Protest Against Pension Bill

People in the southern French city of Marseille march against a bill to raise the retirement age, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010.

French union workers have staged another round of protests against a new pension bill that raises the country's minimum retirement age from 60 to 62.

Officials say 375,000 people turned out for rallies across France Saturday, down sharply from the half-a-million who turned out for the last major demonstration October 28.

Despite the dwindling numbers, Bernard Thibault, the leader of the powerful CGT union, told the newspaper L'Humanite that the protests will continue. But some unions have signaled that the battle is over.

Both chambers of the French parliament have adopted the pension reform bill, which also raises the age for a full pension from 65 to 67. President Nicolas Sarkozy is expected to sign it into law later this year.

A series of strikes and street protests have disrupted train and air travel and caused fuel supply shortages during much of October.

Opinion polls show that a majority of French citizens oppose the change in pension law.

Mr. Sarkozy has refused to back down despite the fierce opposition, insisting that the measure is necessary to prevent the system from going bankrupt.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.