French Gov't Wants to Raise Retirement Age

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French strikers in Paris brought public transportation to a screeching halt on Tuesday. The strike closed down buses, subways, planes, post offices and schools.

Many workers walked off the job to protest government plans to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62. Raising the retirement age is part of a government cost-cutting initiative aimed at reducing debt with the goal of having the pension plan back into the black within the next eight years.

The Paris strike was just one planned event in France where people poured into the streets in more than 220 cities throughout the country.

Some commuters, though, did not share the same fervor as the strikers. They were just annoyed.

"I'm just getting tired of this because this is not the first time," said Henda Fersi, a passenger at the Part-Dieu train station in Lyon in southeast France told the Associated Press. "I understand the strikers' point of view but, still, they put us in a difficult situation and we're penalized."

Unions say the government is attacking one of France's most cherished social protections.

"The government has been telling us for the last three months, every week, that they are going to come up with proposals. We'd really like to see these proposals and that's a determining factor in what comes next," said Francois Chereque, general secretary of French Democratic Labour Confederation.

"If the government wants the next step to go well, it has to make serious proposals on the proposals that we ourselves have made," he added. "Secondly, if today is a success, there will be a follow up. But we won't wait another month before the follow-up. I think we should be much quicker."

Similar protests are scheduled throughout Europe in the coming weeks as as heavily indebted governments cut costs and chip away at some cherished, but costly benefits of European life.

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