Wednesday, October 20, 2010

EconomicsFrance: Pension Strike: France's almost-general strike against pension reforms in the offing?

MarketWatch's reporter based in London, England, William L. Watts, under an overly-dramatic headline "Police move to break fuel blockades in France" as "Gov vows to press ahead with plan to raise retirement age" (Oct20,2k10) cawtiously suggests that the French pension strike is beginning to wind down.  At the same t+m, the gov has not budged on its move to raise the retirement age (from 60 to 62) and full-benefits benchmark (from 65 to 67).

Blockades of depots and strikes by refinery workers have resulted in shortages, with about a third of filling stations running dry on Tuesday, according to an Agence France-Presse report. Rail service and flights have also been disrupted.

But observers said disturbances are likely to fade after Tuesday’s widespread demonstrations, the latest in a prolonged series of strikes and protests. Tuesday’s action was the sixth day of nationwide protests in two months.

“The strike is losing momentum in the transport sector,” said Laurence Boone, economist at Barclays Capital, in a research note. “Paris pubic transport is running almost normally, international trains are running normally and about 50% to 70% of flights are maintained.”
The government has started to tap strategic oil reserves, which hold around three months of supply, and has begun reopening some refineries, Boone said. Also, college students will go on midterm vacations at the end of the week, which will likely curb their participation in any protests.

“The biggest problem would be if I failed to do my duty, to make sure that we can pay for today’s and tomorrow’s pensions,” Sarkozy told journalists Tuesday, Wall Street Journal reported.

“While positions have hardened on both sides ... the strikes which have crippled the French downstream oil sector are not likely to go on for an extended duration, and will probably be resolved by next week,” said Greg Priddy, global oil analyst at Eurasia Group in New York.

Union leaders are divided over what to do after the bill is voted on in the Senate, which is seen as virtually certain to approve the measure, the Financial Times reported.
Some unions see little point in extending protests beyond the Senate vote out of concern that further disruptions will turn the public against the protests.
In the French Senate, delays accumulated which played into the hands of the extreme leftist unions who love protests, demos, and barricades. The logic of their approach always tends toward its ultimate, violent revolution in the tired old Marxist style.

-- EconoMix

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