Nothing seems to be going right for French President Nicholas Sarkozy as the French unions consider extending their protests while the Senate considers delaying the vote till they study all the amendments to the bill.
The labor unions have been staging protests all over the country. The oil and refineries have been shut for the past week. The oil crisis is worsening as the workers enter their second week of protests. The proposed bill raises the minimum retirement age to 62 and that of full pension to 67. This would put France’s retirement age on par with other European nations. Britain, Germany and Italy are other countries who have recently raised their retirement age.
The change is inevitable keeping in mind the nation’s aging population and the fiscal deficit says Sarkozy. The pension bill passed the lower house of the Parliament last month. The Prime Minister Francois Fillon feels that social protests are a right of the citizen in a democratic environment. But, the Senate will pass the reform bill and by the end of the week the bill will become law he says.
Polls show that 70% of the citizens agree with the protesters. Yesterday, police count show that at least 1.1 million people had joined the protests. Schools have remained shut in many areas as high school students and teachers too join the protests.
The air remains tense and uncertain as never ending queues form outside gas stations as people panic and stock up on fuel. This panic buying is to be partially blamed for the shortage in fuel say the owners of the petrol stations.
This bill forms the mainstay of Sarkozy’s economic reforms meant to get the country’s economy back in shape again. The performance of this bill will determine his future political career.