Factbox: French media comment on strikes, pension reform

PARIS (BestGrowthStock) – France faced its sixth day of nationwide strikes and protests in two months on Tuesday as trade unions sought to force President Nicolas Sarkozy to back down on an unpopular pension reform raising the retirement age.

Striking oil refinery workers have shut off fuel supplies and a growing number of petrol stations are running out of fuel.

Newspapers were not printed or distributed because of the strike but here are some editorial comments from their websites:

LES ECHOS (business daily):

Neither the law nor industrial relations conventions allow the blockading of oil refineries or fuel depots, or obstruction of rail tracks and highways. Left to extremists, the trade unions’ struggle is at risk of being distorted by acts of sabotage.

One of the first duties, as in every democracy, is to defer to superior political legitimacy. Another should be … not to try by every means to paralyze the economy by depriving it of fuel at a time when production is barely recovering from the worst crisis in nearly a century. This state of economic emergency justifies the use of force to spare thousands of companies a new ordeal.

LIBERATION (left-wing):

Petrol is running out, trains are hardly running, high school students are demonstrating in growing numbers and the police have arrested more than 300 “vandals,” but Frederic Lefebvre (the spokesman for the ruling UMP party) says he is “calm” and “serene.”

These comments by a friend of President Nicolas Sarkozy are indecent because they are dripping with disdain for workers who are sacrificing another day’s salary today.

The UMP is trying to pit the supposed “calm” and “serenity” of politicians against the agitation of strikers and demonstrators. But even if it displeases Mr Lefebvre, the workers who march today will be exercising their right to participate in the political debate too.

LE FIGARO (conservative):

What if suddenly, in a big reversal of values, the current pay-as-you-go pensions system whereby today’s workers pay for their elders’ pensions was seen by young people as a symbol of injustice? What if one day they said “no?” That’s what is called a war between generations. We’ve been talking about this for 20 years as a possibility. It may be starting to happen, and if they start to feel solidarity between the generations is no longer their business, then we’ll have a problem.

L’EST REPUBLICAIN (regional daily):

The one thing that is certain is that the French people will come out of this crisis even more depressed than before.

Factbox: French media comment on strikes, pension reform