- Title: FRANCE: Thousands of public sector workers strike over state pension reforms
- Date: 3rd April 2003
- Summary: (W5) CHARLES DE GAULLE AIRPORT, ROISSY, FRANCE (APRIL 3, 2003) (REUTERS) WIDE/ PAN PLANES ON TARMAC SLV AIR FRANCE PLANE ON TARMAC WIDE OF PLANES ON TARMAC WIDE OF INTERIOR OF AIRPORT/PEOPLE WITH TROLLEYS CLOSE OF DEPARTURE BOARDS SLV PEOPLE LOOKING AT DEPARTURE BOARD CLOSE OF YELLOW SIGN READING: 'AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL STRIKE. AIR TRAFFIC DISRUPTED. PLEASE CONTACT YOUR AIRLINE.' WIDE OF ARRIVAL BOARDS AT AIRPORT WIDE/ PAN PEOPLE WITH LUGGAGE AT AIRPORT WIDE OF PEOPLE NEAR AIR CHECK IN DESKS TRAVELLING SHOT OF SLOW MOVING TRAFFIC ON MOTORWAY WIDE OF SLOW MOVING TRAFFIC ON MOTORWAY FROM MOTORWAY BRIDGE (W5) PARIS, FRANCE (APRIL 3, 2003) (REUTERS) WIDE OF INTERIOR OF SAINT LAZARE TRAIN STATION WIITH HUGE CROWD OF PEOPLE WALKING ALONG PLATFORM SLV OF COMMUTERS ON PLATFORM SLV PASSENGER SURROUNDING STATION STAFF ON PLATFORM CLOSE OF RAILWAY STAFF CHECKING TRAIN DETAILS WIDE / PAN OF PEOPLE ON CROWDED PLATFORM AT SAINT LAZARE SLV COMMUTERS ON PLATFORM MV CLOSED UNDERGROUND STATION TICKET OFFICE VARIOUS, PEOPLE STANDING AROUND IN PARIS STREETS AT BUS STOPS (2 SHOTS) (W5) PARIS, FRANCE (APRIL 3, 2003) (REUTERS) WIDE OF REPUBLIQUE SQUARE WITH DEMONSTRATORS HOLDING MULTICOLOURED BALLOONS AND FLAGS SMV DEMONSTRATORS WITH BANNER READING: 'WE MUST PREVENT SEILLIERES (HEAD OF THE UNION BOSSES) AND CHIRAC RUINING IT' WIDE OF DEMONSTRATORS MARCHING WITH BANNERS AND FLAGS SMV DEMONSTRATION WITH BANNERS SCU (SOUNDBITE) (French) OLIVIER BESANCENOT FROM LCR UNION (REVOLUTIONARY COMMUNIST UNION) SAYING: "It seems to me that the social problem is back on the agenda and that the sound of the bombs will not cover the liberal reforms that the government wants to impose. I think that this massive mobilisation means that a huge move is going to start to impose 37.5 working years for everybody in the public or private sectors. It is only the start of this movement because the government will need more of that to give up but it will push us to go even further." VARIOUS OF DEMONSTRATORS MARCHING WITH BANNERS AND FLAGS (4 SHOTS) WIDE OF MARCH WITH CHANTING OF SLOGANS
- Embargoed: 18th April 2003 13:00
- Location: ROISSY AIRPORT AND PARIS, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Topics: Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA95A7M7YLT6Q2292L11POXO1OY
- Story Text: Thousands of people have hit the streets in France in a public sector strike against state pension reforms, crippling rail and air traffic.
Hundreds of passengers were stranded in the main Paris airports while traffic on the metro, buses, trams and commuter trains was seriously disrupted on Thursday (April 3) due to a protest against the government's pension reform plans.
National carrier Air France said it cancelled 55 percent of its domestic and European flights but its long-haul services flew as normal. Still, air authorities said up to 80 percent of French air traffic would be hit in total by the end of the day.
Several Paris metro lines were shut down altogether and commuters faced hours-long delays with skeleton services on urban and regional train routes into the French capital.
Eurostar services between Paris, Brussels and London ran as normal in the morning. High-speed TGV train services were badly hit, with one train in three cancelled on some routes.
Some 20,000 demonstrators took to the streets of Paris to protest against plans to reform the state pension system.
Demonstrators marched from Republique Square to Saint Augustin Church waving banners that read 'Lets take the profit to finance the pensions' and chanting 'Raffarin you did not win, remember Juppe'.
The clash between the unions and the government is reminiscent of the 1995 pensions dispute that helped to topple France's last conservative government in 1997.
Union leaders said 20,000 people marched in the capital, although the police estimate only half that number marched.
Olivier Besancenot, head of the LCR (Revolutionary Communist Union) union said that the demonstration was to push for 37.5 working years paying into the pension system for the public as well as the private sectors.
"It seems to me that the social problem is back on the agenda and that the sound of bombs will not cover the liberal reforms that the government wants to impose. I think that this massive mobilisation means that a huge move is going to start to impose 37.5 working years for everybody in the public or private sectors. It is only the start of this movement because the government will need more of that to give up but it will push us to go even further," he said.
Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin is expected to push for public employees to pay into the system for 40 years, as private-sector workers do now, to claim a full pension. They currently pay in for 37.5 years.
The unions oppose any plans to make people work past age 60 before retiring at full pension. That move has been suggested as a means of softening the impact of an ageing population on the state purse.
Similar demonstrations also took place in a number of cities around France. Several thousand demonstrators took to the streets in Lyon, 80,000 in Marseilles, 6,000 in Tours or 5,000 in Grenoble.
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