A million protesters hit the streets across France in what some say is the biggest challenge to economic reforms in Europe. They're protesting the proposed lifting of the retirement age from 62 to 60. Let's see more.
Out in force. Authorities estimate that a million protesters took to the streets across France in what some say is the biggest and most persistent challenge to economic reforms anywhere in Europe.
Striking public sector workers continued to disrupt travel across France as they raised objections to lifting the retirement age to 62 from 60.
Sporadic violence flared at protest marches as opponents of President Nicolas Sarkozy's pension reform made a last-ditch attempt to stop it.
Sarkozy said that while he understood the strikers concerns, this was not the way to uphold a democracy.
[Nicolas Sarkozy, French President]:
"Everyone has the right to express himself in a democracy, but this expression must be done without violence and without an outburst. I have promised to call a meeting upon my return to Paris in an effort to remedy a certain number of situations, because there are some people who want to work. They make up a majority, and this immense group is not to be deprived of their purpose. That cannot happen in a democracy."
This week will be critical for Sarkozy's flagship pension bill, which the center-right government says is needed to curb a gaping deficit but which many French people feel will unfairly punish them for a failure in the social security system.
Most analysts believe the legislation will pass in the days ahead and protests will die out.
But France's powerful unions, which crushed pension and labor reforms with strikes and protests in 1995 and 2006, say they will press on.