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French Unions Announce More Strikes

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French labor unions on Thursday called on workers to demonstrate in large numbers for two more national protests against the government's plan to raise the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62, and the age for full retirement benefits from 65 to 67. Transpiration has been disrupted and there has been unrest across France for more than a week as workers and students protest proposed law.

The leaders of eight major unions announced plans for two new strike days - October 28 and November 6.

Labor leaders say the government bears full responsibility for further protests, because it has failed to listen to the people.

Nadine Prigent is an official of the workers union, Commission Generale du Travail.

"We are sure we have popular support," she says, adding that "79 percent of the population wants the government to return to negotiations with the Union and that 65 percent do not approve of the way the president is doing his job."

In Paris, protesters gathered outside the Senate on Thursday, which is debating the retirement reform bill that launched the unrest.

This demonstrator voiced the objections of many French workers.

"We are striking because the government wants us, wants people to work until they are 67-years-old with less money when we re retired from work," said the demonstrator.

Across France, protests continue. In Lyon,riot police used tear gas to disperse rampaging youths who threw projectiles and overturned cars.

Union supporters are blockading fuel depots and refineries, leaving about a quarter of gasoline stations in France without fuel.

President Nicolas Sarkozy has refused to give in to growing public pressure, insisting that the pension overhaul is needed to prevent the system from going broke.

The U.S. embassy in Paris has warned Americans to avoid the demonstrations.

The lower house of parliament approved the retirement reforms last month, and the Senate is expected to follow suit. Union officials say their supporters are tired, but determined, and that they will continue to strike -- even if the government passes the reform bill.

Article by Jennifer Glasse, VOA News