"Strikes Loom As France's Pension Showdown Heats Up "

"(Source : time) French President Nicolas Sarkozy has made clear his intention to push pension reform into law. In France, that can mean only one thing: strikes. On Tuesday, the country hunkered down for its fourth day of work stoppages this month. But in contrast to the earlier protests, the Oct. 12 walkouts, led by transport workers, may be renewed on a daily basis by increasingly defiant union members now enjoying a surge of public support. That, observers say, raises the threat of the kind of rolling strikes that brought the nation to a standstill for nearly three weeks in 1995 — a conflict that was also sparked by contested pension reform. Nearly 250 marches were scheduled nationwide Tuesday, with unions hoping to mobilize the 1 million to 3 million people estimated to have turned out for each of the previous days of demonstration. By noon the strike activity had provoked cancellation of 30% to 50% of flights at Paris-area airports, mostly limited to domestic routes — a level of disruption also experienced by train travelers. Commuters to Paris encountered large traffic jams as trains serving suburban lines were considerably affected. Though movement on the Métro was fairly fluid early on, that was expected to change later in the day with employees leaving work to join afternoon marches. Worse still, by mid-morning Tuesday, members of unions representing Métro workers had already voted to renew their action on Wednesday — a prolongation national rail workers were expected to replicate amid rising defiance toward pension reform that Sarkozy and his conservative government say is not open to negotiation."