France to pursue pension reform as unions vow more strikes

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French unions Friday vowed to stage two more days of strikes against raising the retirement age, the day after a similar protest and despite the government promising to push on with the plan.

Nationwide strikes and protests will be held on Saturday, October 2 and Tuesday, October 12, following two days of protest in September, a union source told AFP following a meeting of the trade unions federation.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon said Friday that his government would push on with controversial plans to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 despite the campaign of strikes and street protests.

"Governing means listening to everyone. Governing means respecting everyone. But governing France also sometimes means being able to say 'no'," he told a meeting of his UMP party in the southwestern town of Biarritz.

Unions said three million people took to the streets on Thursday, although the police estimated that only around a million protested against President Nicolas Sarkozy's pension reform plans.

The bill has already been passed by the lower house of parliament and will be examined from October 5 by the upper house, where it is expected to pass easily.

© 2010 AFP

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