France Faces New Wave Of Strikes

"French unions are set for another day of damaging strikes and street protests against President Nicolas Sarkozy's plans to overhaul pensions and raise the retirement age from 60 to 62.The demonstrations are expected to cause disruption to rail, air and urban transport, schools and postal services. Organisers are hoping to better the turnout on 7 September, when more than one million workers took part. Mr Sarkozy says the reforms are needed to tackle France's budget deficit. The walkouts are expected to hit transport the hardest. Only one in two trains will be running nationally and disruptions to services had already begun on Wednesday night. About half of flights at Paris Orly are to be cancelled, as well as 40% at the capital's Charles de Gaulle airport, and 40% at other airports throughout the country, said the DGAC civil aviation authority.The BBC's Christian Fraser in Paris says both sides will be watching closely the size of this protest. There is still the threat from some unions of open-ended action, he says, and if that gains support it will certainly apply pressure to an already embattled president.'Unfair burden' Mr Sarkozy, already under attack from the European Union for deporting Roma and from the media over a lingering financial scandal, says he will press on with the reforms regardless. "