The pension reforms, which form the cornerstone of President Sarkozy’s much touted economic reforms aims at raising the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62. This s has not gone down well with the French public. Paralyzing strikes have taken over majority of the cities in the last week. An estimated 3 million people were out on the streets protesting the President’s reform policy. The workers of France’s 12 oil refineries have been on strike since last week and many of the oil distribution depots have been blocked. Many of the petrol bunks have run dry as people panic and stock up fuel. As the fuel scene appears desperate, rumors are that France is now dipping into its emergency fuel supplies.
The Senate has already given full support for the key points
and will meet again on Wednesday to vote on complete text. French President
Nicholas Sarkozy feels strongly that the reforms are inevitable when the
country’s ageing population and budget deficit is taken into consideration.
Sarkozy claims that the government will save 70bn euros (£58bn) if the reforms
are put into action. On the eve of the
Senate vote, the lorry drivers have also joined in the strike, thus worsening
the fuel crisis.
President Sarkozy has set up a crisis cabinet comprising of key ministers to ensure continuous fuel supply. Industry Minister Christian Estrosi insists that the government is in control and that there will be no blockades for transport and other road users. The scene out on the streets of France tells a different story as public transport is frequently interrupted by the strikers. Only 30% of the flights are still operational and those arriving have been warned to come with enough fuel for the return flight. Schools remain close as students take to the streets in demonstrations. Situation in France is ugly as garbage piles up as refuse collectors join the strike. This crisis and its management might actually be the highlight in the next Presidential elections.