France pension protests draw half million: authorities

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The latest mass protests against pensions reform in France drew more than half a million demonstrators into the streets Tuesday, authorities said, fewer than on the last comparable day of marches.

The interior ministry said 480,000 people demonstrated in various towns by midday and police in Paris said at mid-afternoon that 60,000 people were marching there.

The CGT, France's biggest union, estimated turnout in Paris at 330,000, which it said was equal to the October 12 march. Unions' estimates at recent demonstrations have habitually been several times higher than those of police.

The interior ministry said the midday turnout, based on a police count, was down from a figure of 500,000 at the same time during the last weekday demonstrations on October 12.

The police figure for the key Paris march was down from 65,000 last time.

Protests were planned in towns across France on the sixth day of coordinated nationwide protests against President Nicolas Sarkozy's plan to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62.

© 2010 AFP

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