Protests Rise in France


Written by Hannah Grantz
21 Thursday 21st October 2010

Today marks the seventh day of chaos across France after the National Assembly voted last Thursday to raise the national retirement age from 60 to 62. Students are among the most hostile of protesters, barricading in Paris schools and flipping over cars in Lyon. Police are using tear gas to control rioters.
The Senate is due to vote later this week on determining whether the retirement age will be raised, in addition to also possibly changing the full state pension age from 65 to 67. Protesters claim to continue their rebellion until the government backs down, according to the head of the CGT workers’ union, Bernard Thibault, adding, “We will ask the unions for strong action that will allow people to stop work and go on to the streets."
Riots in the streets have lead to fuel shortages after depots had been blockaded. Flights leaving from Paris to both Seattle and Mumbai were forced to take off without enough fuel for the entire flight, having to make a pit-stop midway to their destinations. Early today the airport in Marseille was blocked by protesters, and even after President Sarkozy asked for depots to be re-opened, one quarter of all gas stations in France are still out of fuel.
Also in Marseille, public transportation has been cut down to a minimum, as trains have been delayed or cancelled and the ports blockaded. Rubbish collectors have been on strike for nine days, making for some pretty nasty streets throughout the area.
Although the Eurostar from London to Paris remains in good service, Britons are being encouraged not to drive to France since most streets are blocked or have been taken down to one-lane traffic. A traffic police spokesman said, “The situation cannot get worse. These roads are leading to the northern coast, so anyone traveling to and from Britain by car can expect chaos.” Lady Gaga cancelled concerts scheduled in Paris this weekend, in fear that she wouldn’t be able to get to them.
Another member of the CGT, Leshmi Taguelmint, told AP Television News that they "will continue our action, for the time being we have the whole population behind us and we will continue".

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