Unions strike over ben­e­fits

Los Angeles Times - - The World -

Hun­dreds of thou­sands of French work­ers took to the streets for the sec­ond day of na­tion­wide strikes this month to protest Pres­i­dent Nicolas Sarkozy’s plan to raise the re­tire­ment age to 62, with union walk­outs crip­pling air and train travel and dis­rupt­ing schools across the coun­try.

The govern­ment and unions dis­agreed about the turnout even more than usual. The In­te­rior Min­istry said 997,000 pro­test­ers marched na­tion­wide, 123,000 fewer than dur­ing protests two weeks ago. But la­bor lead­ers — who had urged peo­ple to march in even greater num­bers than dur­ing the last round of protests, on Sept. 7 — said the move­ment was gain­ing steam and put the turnout at nearly 3 mil­lion.

Sarkozy has in­di­cated that he is will­ing to make mar­ginal con­ces­sions but re­mains firm on the cen­tral pil­lar: in­creas­ing the re­tire­ment age from 60 to 62 and push­ing the age for those who want full re­tire­ment ben­e­fits from 65 to 67.

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