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    France Braces for Strikes Against Pension Reform

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    NTDTelevision

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    France is bracing for rolling strikes as unions raise the stakes in their stand-off with the government over pension reform. But despite striking efforts, some say the new law is not negotiable.

    France braces for major rolling strikes and stoppages that are expected to clog the streets with traffic and affect nearly all forms of transport in the country, Tuesday.

    Unions are raising the stakes in their stand-off with the government of President Nicolas Sarkozy over pension reform.

    The French Senate has already voted to ratify raising the minimum retirement age to 62 from 60.

    The key difference this time around is that rail and public transport unions have called for rolling strikes, not simply a one-day stoppage. If their call is heeded, that could spell days, if not weeks of misery for millions of commuters, who face cuts in services of up to 40% or more.

    [Pierre Briancon, Reuters Breakingviews Analyst and Commentator]:
    "The big difference between the last round of demonstrations and strikes, and this one, is that now the law has been passed by parliament. So as much as it is easy for government to compromise on some aspects of the laws, sometimes fundamental aspects of its plans, now that the law is the law of the republic, it's something that is very official. It's not something that can be negotiated in backroom deals with unions."

    Unions hope that the stoppages, combined with from street demonstrations could force the government to back down.