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French workers strike over pension plans

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Thousands on strike across France over pension plans
  • Protests also planned throughout country
  • Workers angry over plans to raise retirement age
  • Plans aimed at tackling France's national debt

Paris, France (CNN) -- France braced for more fallout Thursday from the government's efforts to solve the country's debt problems, with thousands of people striking and protesting around the country.

Public sector workers, some transport workers, teachers and postal workers walked off the job Thursday.

The CGT union could not say how many people would be on strike, but it said it expected the numbers to be similar to the last strike on March 23, when 800,000 people joined the strike.

The Inter-Union representing CGT and five other unions said 173 demonstrations were planned Thursday all over the country "to question authorities and employers in order to influence the choices that will be taken."

France's government is reforming public pension plans, saying they are a major cause of the public debt. The government says it will raise the retirement age, which currently is at 60, though it hasn't decided how high to make it.

There is major opposition to the government's plans. The Socialists in the French parliament have argued the government can raise money instead through more taxes on the financial sector.

"The government continues to force the advance of its timetable without taking the time or the means to launch a real debate," the Inter-Union statement said. "This is unacceptable. Nothing is settled yet."

CNN's Jim Bittermann contributed to this report.