(h/t K.) I keep thinking about that scene in “Sicko,” where an American ex-pat tells Michael Moore, “Here in France, the government is afraid of the people. In America, the people are afraid of the government.”That’s the way to do it!
More than one million French workers have taken to the streets to protest against austerity measures planned by President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government.
The rallies came as a 24-hour national strike disrupted flight and rail services, and closed schools.
Activists are angry at government plans to overhaul pensions and raise the retirement age from 60 to 62.
Union leaders say more strikes and protests are possible if the government fails to give an adequate response.
“If they don’t respond and they don’t pay heed, there’ll be a follow up, and nothing is ruled out at this stage,” Bernard Thibault, leader of the large CGT union, told a rally in Paris.
France’s retirement age is lower than many countries in Europe, but analysts say the issue is polarising politics in the country.
Labour Minister Eric Woerth introduced the pensions bill to the National Assembly, warning of dire consequences if it did not pass.
“If we don’t modify our pension plan, then tomorrow there will be no money left to pay the French pensions,” he told parliamentarians.
Under current rules, both men and women in France can retire at 60, providing they have paid social security contributions for 40.5 years – although they are not entitled to a full pension until they are 65.
The government says it will save 70bn euros (£58bn) by raising the retirement age to 62 by 2018, the qualification to 41.5 years, and the pension age to 67.
President Nicolas Sarkozy says reforms are needed to cope with an aging population and the country’s budget deficit.
The government is also looking to find 100bn euros of savings in three years, and is planning cuts in the civil sector.
Yeah, stick it to working people to bail out the bankers. Where have I heard that before?