Strikes, unrest in France unabated Tuesday

Oct. 19, 2010 at 3:49 PM
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PARIS, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- The Interior Ministry in France said 480,000 protesters demonstrated Tuesday as strikes continued over a plan to reform the country's pension system.

Union organizers said "growing mobilization" would continue to disrupt services, schools and petroleum deliveries, Radio France Internationale reported.

General strikes continued into the sixth day. Striking refinery workers have managed to stop production at 10 of the country's 11 refineries, spreading fear that gasoline shortages are around the corner. Increasing numbers of gasoline stations are running out of supplies. Radio France Internationale put the number at 2,500 Tuesday.

New Anti-Capitalist Party spokesman Olivier Besancenot said the "power of the street" would prevail in its effort to stop an initiative to raise the pension age from 60 to 62, a proposal supported by President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The government was "increasingly brittle," he said.

"The socialist history of our country serves as a reminder that whatever the parliament or the senate decide, the power of the people can undo it," he said.

Former Socialist Party Prime Minister Laurent Fabius urged Sarkozy to negotiate with union leaders.

"Everything that's happening -- in businesses, on the streets, at petrol pumps -- all the blockages can be put to an end by the decision of one person: the president," he said in a television interview.

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