France and burning vehicles (video)

Rail unions and truckers in France joined fuel blocking strikes on Sunday to protest President Nicolas Sarkozy’s pension reform, exerting more pressure on the government.

Across the country, gas pumps have been drying up as millions of panic-stricken motorists rushed to fill their tanks. Truckers said they would block key streets from Sunday evening, and rail unions were going to launch new strikes on Monday to paralyze national transportation.

More protestors would join the final march set for Tuesday, one day before the Senate is to vote on the pension bill. Unions say they will not give up until Sarkozy gives in and lets them have a say on this issue.

“I think we are clearly at a crossroads. What I hope is that reason will prevail,” Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire told Europe 1 radio.

To cut the record deficits and debts caused by the worst recession in seven decades, France’s upper house of parliament has voted to prolong the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62.

Last Monday the upper house approved increasing the full-pension entitlement age regardless of contribution period to 67 from the present 65, which provoke rounds of walkouts and strikes nationwide.

French teenagers joined protests against government plans to raise the retirement age to 62 on Monday, blockading schools and burning vehicles and debris.
In Nanterre, in a Paris suburb, around a hundred students, some from the Lycee Joliot Curie school faced police in riot gear after trying to blockade their school.

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