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World News

FACTBOX - France's Sarkozy faces multiple protests

(Reuters) - One year into his mandate, French President Nicolas Sarkozy faces numerous protests against his reform programme.

Here are some of the main disputes:

PENSIONS

Unions have demanded a day of action on May 22 to protest against government plans to make people work 41 years before being able to draw a full pension compared with 40 years now. Rail, Air France and public transport unions are also expected to strike. Civil servants likely to join in. The government says growing life expectancy means people will have to work longer than was previously the case.

The May 22 strike will also be used as a soapbox to protest against other government measures such as plans to cut 23,000 state sector jobs this year and 35,000 next and moves to put pressure on the long-term unemployed to accept jobs.

Rail unions say they might start an open-ended strike from June 2 unless the government backtracks.

EDUCATION

Teachers and students have staged numerous protests over the past two months against plans to cut 11,200 jobs in education in the next academic year. Hundreds of thousands of teachers staged a one-day strike last week. The next demonstration is called for May 24. Unions also up in arms over Sarkozy’s call for schools to take in students, even when teachers go on strike.

FISHERMEN

Fishermen have blocked access to numerous French ports on the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Channel seaboards to put pressure on the government to give them tax breaks because of the rising cost of diesel fuel. The government says it has already offered more than 50 million euros (39.8 million pounds) in aid and will meet the fishermen on Wednesday to see if more can be done.

PORTS

French ports have also suffered intermittent strikes against government moves to privatise the loading activities of state-run ports. Marseille port hit again on Tuesday.

Reporting by Crispian Balmer

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