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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Tensions mount in French pension reform protest

    PARIS — Tensions mounted and fuel grew scarce in France on Monday ahead of another day of strikes and mass demonstrations against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s pension reform.

    More than 1,000 service stations were out of gasoline Monday, France Info radio reported, as job actions at the country’s 12 refineries went into a sixth day and strikers blockaded oil depots.

    In addition, truck drivers blocked several motorways, and protests by secondary school students in several cities turned violent.

    The interior ministry said that 290 youthful protesters had been arrested Monday after demonstrating students in Nanterre, a suburb of Paris; Lyon; and other cities burned cars and attacked police. Security forces responded with teargas and Flash-Ball projectiles.

    The protests grew more fierce ahead of a day of nationwide strikes and protests as a vote on the reform by the Senate was to be held by late Thursday. The measure has already been approved by the National Assembly.

    On average, about half of all scheduled trains were expected not to be running in France on Tuesday, the state-run railway system SNCF said.

    In addition, half of all scheduled flights at Paris’s Orly Airport were to be canceled, with 30 percent of flights to be canceled at other French airports.

    The job action will also involve France’s nuclear energy sector, as workers at the power station at Flamanville voted Monday to strike for two days and lower production of electricity by at least half, the CGT trade union said.

    Sarkozy has vowed not to retreat on the pension reform, which will gradually raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 by the year 2018.

    Sarkozy said again late Monday in Deauville that he would not withdraw the measure.

    “”This reform is essential; France is committed to it,”” he said. “”It is perfectly normal and natural that it provokes unease and opposition.””

    With neither side backing down, France could be heading for a general strike like the one of 1995, when the country was paralyzed for more than two weeks. That did not end until then Prime Minister Alain Juppe dropped his plans to reform France’s pension system.

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