In France, strikes continue to plague the nation’s transportation system. President Nicolas Sarkozy is in the midst of welfare reform and increasing the retirement age from 60 to 62. In response, employee unions have shout down everything they can, including an oil refinery which supplies fuel to the Charles de Gaulle Airport as well as filling stations. Some motorists must travel 50 kilometers or more to find petroleum for their cars. Now, even high school students are supporting the union strikes in France, giving the current crisis an image of the youth strike from May, 1968.

Private and public sector workers take part in a demonstration over pension reform in Nantes October 16, 2010. Marchers, on Saturday took to the streets in a nationwide protest against President Nicolas Sarkozy's flagship plan to raise the retirement age. The country has already endured four straight days of strikes over the government's unpopular pension reform, squeezing fuel supplies, grounding flights and cutting rail services. The words on the banners read For a retirement at 60, a different sharing of wealth . REUTERS/Stephane Mahe (FRANCE - Tags: POLITICS EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS CIVIL UNREST)

On Saturday, over 800,000 people marched in protest against the austerity measures. As with most of the developed world which practices a form of democratic-socialism, sovereign debt issues have reached a crisis point, forcing reductions in salaries, benefits and pensions.

For the past week, nationwide protests have brought France to a standstill as the French Senate prepares to vote this coming Tuesday on whether or not to increase the retirement age from 60 to 62. But the average retirement age for many French workers is much less. Those in the unions servicing the gas and electric utilities usually retire with full pensions at the age of 55. French rail workers retire at 52.

Many see the turmoil in France as reminiscent of he student strikes in May of 1968. More like student riots, French youth took to the streets protesting against what we would call ‘conservative’ or ‘traditional values’ policies of the French government. Along with the current government’s move to exercise fiscal responsibility, Nicolas Sarkozy has been a leader in other ‘social’ issues, such as the expulsion of Roma ‘gypsy’ immigrants and a new law prohibiting Muslim women from wearing burqas which cover the woman’s face.

In France, strikes continue to plague the nation’s transportation system. President Nicolas Sarkozy is in the midst of welfare reform and increasing the retirement age from 60 to 62. In response, employee unions have shout down everything they can, including an oil refinery which supplies fuel to the Charles de Gaulle Airport as well as filling stations. Some motorists must travel 50 kilometers or more to find petroleum for their cars. Now, even high school students are supporting the union strikes in France, giving the current crisis an image of the youth strike from May, 1968.

Private and public sector workers take part in a demonstration over pension reform in Paris October 16, 2010. France's powerful unions hope to mobilise millions of marchers on Saturday to take to the streets in a nationwide protest against President Nicolas Sarkozy's flagship plan to raise the retirement age. The country has already endured four straight days of strikes over the government's unpopular pension reform, squeezing fuel supplies, grounding flights and cutting rail services. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes (FRANCE - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS)Private and public sector workers attend a demonstration over pension reform in Toulouse October 16, 2010. A nationwide strike that could hit various industries is planned for Tuesday, a day before the Senate is due to vote on a bill to make people work longer for their pensions.  REUTERS/Jean-Philippe Arles (FRANCE - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS)A poster of France President Nicolas Sarkozy is seen as private and public sector workers attend a demonstration over pension reform in Bordeaux, southwestern France, October 16, 2010. A nationwide strike that could hit various industries is planned for Tuesday, a day before the Senate is due to vote on a bill to make people work longer for their pensions. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau (FRANCE - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS IMAGES OF THE DAY)Workers of French oil giant Total and the SFDM Society, and SNCF railway workers set up a burning barricade to block the entrance of the deposit of the society SFDM near the oil refinery of Donges, near Nantes, October 15, 2010. Workers at all of France's 12 refineries are currently on strike, prompting 10 of them to start shutting down, the CGT and CFDT unions said on Friday. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe (FRANCE - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS ENERGY EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS)

Related Articles:

French resistance grows to spirit of ’68

Pensions test for Sarzoky

Revolt of the Pampered