The picture captures the scene in Lyons to the southwest of Paris. The massive force of workers' outrage was expressed in huge demos and rallies across some 220 cities of what's called 'metropolitan France.' But Sarkozy believes the retirement / pension choke-measure is necessary to keep the country solvent. The unions, led by the largest of the flock, the Communist-run CGT (Confédération général du travail - General Confederation of Labor), have little interest in maintaining the economic viability of French society, nor in the financial stability of the French state.
Among the other leftist unions active in the protest were FO (Force Ouvrière = Work's Force) and CFDT (Confederation francaise democratique travailleur = French Democratic Confederation of Labor). "The CFDT was created in 1964 when a majority of the members of the Christian trade union Confédération française des travailleurs chrétiens (CFTC) decided to become secular (cf. the once-Catholic trade union in Québec, CSN). The minority kept the name CFTC." Thereafter CFDT wandered into various alliances with leftwing political parties. "In 2003, the support of the new CFDT leader François Chérèque of the [govt's] plan of pensions reform caused an internal crisis. Some CFDT members left the confederation and chose the CGT or the [politically] autonomous trade unions Solidaires unitaires démocratique (SUD) (Union SNUI-SUD Trésor Solidaires - apparently concentrated among financial sector workers, and politically unaligned). However, the CFDT participated with the other confederations in the 2006 conflict about the Contrat première embauche (CPE)." More recently, the Christian labor union of France won 8.69% of the vote in the employee's college during the 2k08 professional elections (whereas the CFDT won in excess of 20%). The "employees' college" is a foundational institution of labor-representation pluralism in France, altho even in this respect French pluralism is far more volatile, whereas in the Netherlands it is far more stable. UK, Canada, USA, and Australia have no labor-representational pluralism, sad to say.
In any case, the hot issue of pension reform is among those which have brawt down President Sarkozy's standing in the general opinion polls, where he presently garners only 30%.
UPDATE (Sept 9, 2k10l 3:24 AM Eastern Dayl+t T+m):
French Protest against raising the retirement age from 60 to 62," Booker Rising: news site for Black Moderates and Black Conservatives (Sept8,2k10).
Strikes in France, London foreshadow more protests," AP via Yahoo! News (Sept7,2k10)
Prime Minister Francois Fillon reminded the French that it could be worse: In nearly all European countries, the current debate is over raising the retirement age to 67 or 68, he said. Germany has decided to bump the retirement age from 65 to 67, for example, and the U.S. Social Security system is gradually raising the retirement age to 67.
On another recent public issue in France, see earlier rW2 post on Muslim worship blocking some streets in Paris: "PoliticsFrance: Pisteutics: Islam (ists?) flaunt French law, mass prayer in streets" refWr+t 2 (Sept5,2k10). See the video there, carried by CBN.