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French Union Calls For Massive New Pension Protest

French police secure the entrance to a petrol depot in Fos sur Mer, near Marseille, on October 20.
One of France's biggest trade unions has called for further "massive" strike actions next week against a government plan to raise the retirement age.

The group, the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), made a similar plea on October 20 aimed at paralyzing the domestic energy sector.

The reform measure, which would raise the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62, has already sparked 10 days of protests, strikes, and blockades of fuel depots that have led to fuel shortages and government intervention to ensure supplies in key sectors.

There have also been outbursts of violence as students joined the protests.

Speaking to factory workers, President Nicolas Sarkozy reiterated on October 21 that the reform has to be pushed through to reduce a huge deficit.

"Young people are entering the market later and later these days because they are studying longer and that's a good thing," Sarkozy said. "And older people are living longer and longer because life expectancy has increased. How can we resolve that unless we increase the duration of a working life?"

The Senate is expected to hold a final vote on the bill before the end of this week.

The measure has already been approved by the lower house of parliament.

The French protests have become the biggest challenge to austerity measures enacted by governments across Europe.

compiled from agency reports