FRANCE – France’s unions are preparing for Saturday’s national demonstration in an attempt to have their opinions considered in the government’s proposals for pension reform.

Demonstrations by the seven unions in Paris, Lille and Metz will start at 14:00 Paris time. François Chérèque, leader of the trade union Confederation francaise democratique du travail, or CFDT, said in an interview with French daily Le Parisen that the unions want to make the government aware that reforms cannot be made without them. They want to show the country that they are waiting for proof that the government is being responsible.

The unions are hoping that prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin will address the issue of the level of pensions in his speech on February 3, and, more importantly, shed light on his intentions for reform.

Both Raffarin and president Jacques Chirac have recognised the need for pension reforms, but neither has come up with a way of resolving the issue.