8 September 2010
French workers are protesting over President Nicolas Sarkozy's plan to raise the retirement age to 62 from 60. The workers and unions have have called strikes in Paris and other major cities.
Click to hear the report:
Tens of thousands of protestors poured onto the streets of Paris and other French cities today to rally against raising the pension age from 60 to 62. There was also major disruption to transport as workers went on strike. Some carried placards which read "Let's refuse austerity plans".
For President Sarkozy, raising the retirement age is a key cost-cutting reform. The unions said two and a half million people marched today. The government said the figure was closer to a million. But everyone agrees the protests are growing and further strikes are expected. And later this month, President Sarkozy is likely to announce fifty billion dollars in spending cuts.
Europe is facing a season of strikes, as heavily-indebted governments reduce costs and try and trim benefits that are often cherished.
Gavin Hewitt, BBC News, Paris
Click to hear the vocabulary:
people who show their disagreement with something, often by shouting and carrying signs
- rally against
come together to show their disapproval of something
interruption or disturbance
large pieces of card with written messages
- austerity plans
extreme measures to reduce spending and save money
organisations that aim to defend workers' rights
walked as part of a group, in support of, or against something
owing a lot or money
cut or reduce
valued or appreciated