French Fight Pension Cuts: Update

In recognition of World Day to Overcome Extreme Poverty, Oct 17, CGT, the largest of the unions leading the struggle against the French government’s proposal to cut pensions by raising the age of retirement, issued a statement reaffirming its commitment to end poverty and solidarity with people all over the world fighting the ravages of poverty.

In the statement, CGT noted that the International Labor Organization has found that unemployment among youth is one of the main causes of poverty in the world. Globally, 81 million young people between 15 and 24 who want to work can’t find jobs.

In France, unemployment among young people is 25 percent, which, according to CGT, is one reason that young people have supported the fight against pension cuts. Many realize that if the age of retirement is raised as proposed by the Sarkozy government, older people will stay on the job longer, which will mean fewer job opportunities for young people.

The statement ends by saying, “We salute all those who are engaged in the ongoing battle for peace, freedom, democracy, justice, social progress, and equal access to all rights for all.”

In further news about the fight against the proposed pension cuts,  the CGT reports that 3 million people in 250 cities across France took part in Saturday’s demonstrations against the cuts.

Another demonstration is planned for Tuesday on the eve of the Senate’s vote on the proposed pension cuts.

On Friday, president Sarkozy ordered riot police to reopen three of the 12 refineries that have been shut down by refinery strikers opposing the pension cuts.

The strike has caused gas shortages. The Transport Ministry reports that 230 gas stations have run out of gas. Also, fuel lines to Paris’ two airports, Charles De Gaulle and Orly, have been intermittently interrupted. Charles De Gaulle is expected to run out of fuel on Monday or Tuesday. Orly is not expected to run out for at least a week.

So far railway workers, refinery workers, and dock workers have remained on strike against the pension cuts. Truck drivers will vote on Monday whether to go out on strike.

The Telegraph reports that strike among rail workers has waned somewhat but “polls show the unions have massive public support.”

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