New bid to rethink pension protest

Pension protests stutter with reduced turn-out at latest marches, now unions look to change tactics

AFTER another reduced turn-out at the latest demonstration against the raising of the pension age, union leaders are meeting tonight to work out how to take protest forward.

Fewer protesters took to the streets on the eighth day of action: police said there were 375,000 people at the 245 protests across the country (down from their estimated 560,000 on October 28), while the CGT union counted 1.2 million (again down, from nearly 2m).

The protests have been seen as a last stand against the bill, which is going through the Conseil Constitutionnel for final ratification.

CGT leader Bernard Thibaut said, however, the street protests would go on even once the law was given final approval. The CGT would go it alone, if need be.

This was aimed at his counterpart at the CFDT, François Chérèque, who has acknowledged that the campaign has started to stutter.

President Sarkozy’s proposal to increase the retirement age from 60 to 62 has been opposed in opinion polls by nearly 75 per cent of the population and has been met with strikes, street marches and refinery blockades that caused disrupted transport.

Now the CFDT and some other unions are suggesting that the protests should move on to another form of – still-to-be-decided – action.

Paris residents were affected directly by a new strike at the weekend after rubbish bins were left uncollected in 10 arrondissements as binmen joined the pensions protest. Depots used by council workers were blockaded, although those used by private contractors were still open and working.