Thousands in anti-pension rise protests

Several thousand people took part in some sort of protest against the government’s plans to increase the state pension age from 65 to 67 on Wednesday, says news agency ANP.

The FNV and MHP trade unions had called on members to take part in a symbolic 65-minute protest between 11.55 and 13.00. Yesterday a court pulled the plug on a planned public transport strike.
At steel firm Corus, car maker Nedcar, port firm ECT and at Shell, union members handed out leaflets and demonstrated all day, the Financieele Dagblad reported.
Flexible pension age
Between 500 and 1,000 campaigners turned up in central Utrecht to hear Agnes Jongerius, head of the FNV trade union and emphatic opponent of the planned increase. She reiterated that the unions are prepared to talk about a flexible pension age, so that some people could still retire at 65.
In Tilburg, bus drivers hung posters against the pension increase in their buses and handed out ‘pills’ to passengers because ‘they will need to have nerves of steel when they have to rely on the reactions of a 67-year-old bus driver.’
In total, between 25,000 and 30,000 people took part in the protests, ANP quoted union chiefs as saying.
Union leaders also send a letter to prime minister Jan Pieter Balkenende, urging him to meet them for last-ditch talks on the effort. Balkenende turned down the proposal, saying he did not see the reason for it, ANP said.

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