Unions keep up pressure on Sarkozy | world | Hindustan Times
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Unions keep up pressure on Sarkozy

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is facing a make-or-break week for his unpopular pension reform as rail and refinery workers, truck drivers and street marchers ramp up pressure to scrap it before a crucial Senate vote.

world Updated: Oct 18, 2010 00:18 IST

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is facing a make-or-break week for his unpopular pension reform as rail and refinery workers, truck drivers and street marchers ramp up pressure to scrap it before a crucial Senate vote.

Throughout months of opposition to his plan to raise the retirement age, to rein in a ballooning pension deficit, Sarkozy has vowed not to cave in to the powerful unions.

The unions, who have a history of crushing reform, have vowed to match his resolve.

With petrol pumps drying up, truckers threatening to block roads and the public planning marches, this week will put the president's ambition to the test.

If strikes running since Tuesday at all 12 of France's refineries continue, petrol pumps could start to run dry by mid-week, according to the UFIP oil industry lobby, meaning the government would have to consider tapping emergency reserves.

Shortages can hit transport much harder if truckers manage to halt transport and if protesters hit the streets on Tuesday, the day before the Senate is due to vote on the bill. If the Senate votes in favour, the bill will go to the president for his signature, possibly as early as Friday.