24 Sep 2010

Protest numbers in dispute

10:44 am on 24 September 2010

People have taken to the streets in France to protest against government plans to raise the retirement age.

Disruption to transport services began on Wednesday night.

Unions reported turnout of nearly three million people at rallies against pension reform, However, police figures were much lower.

The CFDT federation said 2.9 million had joined events across France, exceeding the turnout of 2.5 million on 7 September.

Police put turnout in Paris at less than a quarter of the unions' figure.

Police said 65,000 people had turned out in Paris while unions there put the figure at 300,000.

Officials also said the number of government workers on strike was down.

Debate to come in upper house

The pension reform bill, which raises the retirement age from 60 to 62, has already been passed by France's lower house of parliament.

The BBC reports it will be debated from 5 October by the Senate, where it is expected to pass comfortably.

President Nicolas Sarkozy says the reforms are needed to tackle the budget deficit and to help support an ageing population.