Vote fuels bitter French divisions as final, largest strikes loom

Saturday, October 23, 2010
By Paul Martin

Polls show that most people feel strikes against pension reform are justified, but the Senate vote in favour of the measures should be respected and the oil refinery blockades should end

Kim Willsher
Sunday 24 October 2010

A flurry of polls revealed yesterday that France is bitterly divided over continuing industrial action as the country braced itself for a further round of strikes, protests and blockades.

On Friday, the upper house of the French parliament voted in favour of a pension reform raising the retirement age to 62. Union leaders have called for two more general strikes and French schoolchildren have threatened continued protests through the holidays. As the authorities struggled to restore petrol supplies across the country following the blockading of France’s 12 oil refineries, opinion polls gave a confused and contradictory picture of the level of support for more industrial action.

In an IFOP survey, 63% declared the two new days of strikes to be “justified”, while a similar poll by Opinion Way found that, although around half of all French people sympathised with the strikes, 56% believed the parliamentary vote should be respected and the unions should stop industrial action.

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