French police say 50,000 at Paris demo, unions 310,000
Police said Saturday 50,000 demonstrators had turned out in Paris to protest against pension reform plans, fewer than at a previous weekend rally two weeks ago, while the unions claimed 310,000.
Traditionally figures given by French government and labour leaders vary wildly, and while the police figure suggested the protest movement is losing steam the unions insisted they had done as well as they expected.
The last time a rally against President Nicolas Sarkozy's plan to raise the minimum retirement age was held on a Saturday -- on October 2 -- police said that 63,000 marched in Paris.
And at the most recent rally, held during a day of strike action on Tuesday, officers counted 89,000. In both cases union leaders announced much higher figures, 310,000 and 330,000 respectively.
Earlier Saturday, the interior ministry announced that smaller marches in towns and cities around France had broght out 340,000 people by noon, fewer than the 500,000 they counted at that point on Tuesday.
© 2010 AFP