France grinds to halt as thousands protest at change to retirement age

Tuesday, September 7, 2010
By Paul Martin

By John Lichfield
Wednesday, 8 September 2010

colossal turnout for nationwide protests against pension reform yesterday threatened President Nicolas Sarkozy with a long winter of discontent if he pushes ahead with plans to increase the French retirement age from 60 to 62.

Trades unions comfortably exceeded their target of mobilising two million people on the streets as a nationwide strike disrupted transport, schools, government offices and parts of the media.

In Paris, the demonstration was so large – an estimated 270,000 people or twice the numbers of the last protest in June – that the march had to be split into two halves. More than 100 marches across the country attracted 2.5million people, according to union estimates.

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