Source Pravda.Ru

French Unions Stage Strike Against Increasing the Retirement Age

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French unions are striking nationwide as lawmakers begin debating President Nicolas Sarkozy's bill to raise the retirement age.

Transport workers began walking off the job last night, and many schools, post offices and government offices will be closed today. Demonstrations are planned in 137 cities, BusinessWeek reports.

According to The Press Association, president Nicolas Sarkozy's plans to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62, with walkouts causing headaches for travellers and commuters.

More than 200 street demonstrations are scheduled throughout France during the one-day movement.

Civil aviation authorities asked airlines to cut a quarter of flights at Paris airports, only two out of five fast trains are scheduled to run, and services have been reduced on Paris's Metro and suburban transport lines.

The strike coincides with the start of debate in parliament over a plan to overhaul the money-losing pension system so it will break even in 2018.

Unions say the government is attacking one of France's most cherished social protections - though a retirement age of 62 would still be among the lowest in Europe.