Pension outrage turns ugly

Mass unrest and fuel shortages have
gripped France as half a million people take to the streets to show their anger
over planned pension reforms.

Riot police have been using tear
gas and batons in ugly confrontations with strikers – some armed with petrol
bombs – who are unhappy about measures being introduced by the government to
save money.

Out of 12,500 petrol stations
across the country, 2,500 have now reportedly run dry.

Many others are close to running
out and there have been huge queues at the pumps.

The government – now tapping into
emergency supplies – claims the situation is under control.

oil refineries remain blocked and truckers are also staging walkouts.

most contentious aspects of the new bill include raising the age of retirement
from 60 to 62 and increasing the age of pension entitlement from 65 to 67.

Sarkozy has made pension reform a key part of his presidency, calling getting
the measures passed his “duty as a Frenchman”.

president claims France is living beyond its means and the austerity measures
will save the country $96 billion.

there has been stiff resistance, with the unions seeing the bill as an attack
on working people and their hard-fought social contract.

claim the government could save money instead by increasing employers’

strikes are becoming a major headache for the government and they seem to have
widespread support – more than was originally thought.

have also entered the argument, clashing with police in some places – and a
school has been burned down at Le Mans in western France.

Mr Sarkozy so far refusing to bow to the mounting pressure, the pensions bill
should pass through parliament by the end of the week – but the unions say they
will fight to the end.

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