Strikes hit France and UK

Widespread strike action has hit both sides of the English Channel, as UK local government workers strike over pensions, while France braces itself for strikes and demonstrations against the controversial youth labour law.

More than one million UK local government workers are expected to participate in a 24-hour protest, what unions are calling the biggest national stoppage since the winter of discontent in 1979.

The dispute is about plans to raise retirement ages to 65 and scrap the so-called Rule of 85, whereby workers can retire if their age and total years of service add up to more than 85.

Across the channel, more than 1.5 million people are expected to participate in the latest day of protests at the French Government’s controversial new employment law.

Under the new legislation which comes into force in April, employers will be able to end job contracts for workers under the age of 26 at any time during a two-year period, without having to offer a reason.

The government says it is trying to boost levels of youth employment – currently more than 20% of the country’s 18 to 25-year-olds are unemployed.

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