PARIS (Reuters) - Striking public sector workers disrupted travel across France on Tuesday and sporadic violence flared at protest marches as opponents of President Nicolas Sarkozy's pension reform made a last-ditch attempt to stop it.From Greece, budget cuts are also protested (“Riot police, protesters clash at Acropolis.”)
Refinery workers, airport staff, train drivers, teachers, postal workers and guards who supply cash machines went on strike and students set off rowdy protests in a day of action against plans to raise the minimum retirement age to 62 from 60.
At least a million protesters demonstrated in cities across France in the biggest and most persistent challenge to economic reforms anywhere in Europe, where governments are struggling to curb budget deficits and reduce debt mountains.
"To hell with the national debt. We'll give them nothing and we don't give a damn about their AAA!" read one protest sign, referring to the AAA credit rating the government says could be at risk unless it gets its pension shortfall under control.
Greece is in the midst of a tough austerity program which has cut public workers' salaries and trimmed pensions in an effort to pull the country out of a severe debt crisis. The austerity plan has led to a series of strikes and demonstrations as workers' unions protest the cutbacks.
Guards and workers at archaeological sites have long been complaining they are owed months of back pay, and they have shut down the Acropolis before in protest, though usually only for a few hours at a time.