French Government in Deep Trouble Over Pension Law

by Oct 13, 2010All Articles

french protestBy Benny Asman, reporting for Amandla! from Brussels

The entire French society is coming out against the law adopted by Senate and Parliament. The law reduces pensions and raises the retirement age from 60 to 62. More than three million workers, students and learners marched on Tuesday 12th of October all over France despite the law already being adopted. A poll published 11th of October showed that 71% of the French are against the new law.

In Paris 330 000 marched, in Marseille 230 000, Toulouse 140 000, and at the Atlantic coast: Nantes 95 000 and Bordeaux 130 000. All numbers are 20-30 % higher than the participation in demonstrations on the 2nd of October. The official police reports cut the numbers of marching protesters by 80-90%. The biggest police trade union accused the heads of the police of being engaged in “political counting exercises”.

President Sarkozy says that the debate is over, but the struggle against the “reform” has become broader and wider during the last weeks. In France the experience is that nothing over before it is over, and that this is decided in the streets. The French working class has ousted minsters and Prime Ministers before by going out in strikes and protests, both five years ago (proposed cuts within education) and in 1995 (nurses on strike for higher wages).

The railways have been closed by strikes for more than a week. The employees have decided to continue their strike at least until the new planned demonstrations set for Saturday 16 October. Subways, buses and commuter trains in Paris are not running on time or at all. In the city of Toulouse, the trade unions have decided to strike also on Thursday. At the harbours of Marseille, the dock workers are on strike since two weeks. Over 100 tankers and ships are waiting to be unloaded. Out of 12 oil refineries owned by Total, 11 are in stand-still. The workers joined the movement and general petrol shortage is coming closer.

Last week learners at high schools, despite warnings from the government came out and joined the protest. The last weeks, trade unionists have visited hundred of high schools and universities all over France to explain the content of the pension law to the youth.

In essence, the already unpopular President Sarkozy and his government are in deep trouble.

To view pictures from the protest in Cherbourg, France visit

Share this article:


Latest issue

Amandla Issue #89