On Day of Pension Reform Vote, French Strike Wields Economic Impact
UPDATED: 2:00 p.m. PDT: In response to protester demands for the pension reform debate to be suspended in the Senate, French Labor Minister Eric Woerth said, "we are not going to suspend the debates. That's a silly idea. The Senate is going to vote, and that moment is approaching."
UPDATED: 8:50 a.m. PDT: As French police attemped to restore access to fuel across the country, President Sarkozy warned the strike disruptions could cause dire financial consequences. At the same time, is was reported that France is importing huge amounts of electricity from its neighbors as its power plants remain under seige from demonstrators.
French workers angered by pension reforms continued to strike Wednesday for a seventh day.
More than one million protesters, including students and transport workers, took to the streets of France Tuesday, disrupting classes, transportation and fuel production.
Twelve of France's oil refineries remain blockaded, dwindling supplies and drying out 4,000 gas stations. Strikes have turned violent in a few cities where police have used tear gas to subdue strikers. Nearly a third of flights have been canceled or delayed, and close to 400 schools have been blockaded by students or disrupted in some way.
The main contention for strikers is the government's proposed raise of the retirement age from 60 to 62 and the full state pension age from 65 to 67. The pension reforms have already passed the National Assembly and await a vote in the Senate, which could take place as early as Wednesday.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has received much criticism for the proposed pension reforms. But despite this, he said he still plans to continue with the reforms.
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