Trade unions led an eighth round of street protests across France on Saturday to show their anger at a rise in the retirement age, but turnout plunged from the peaks seen before parliament adopted the reform last month.
Unity wavered as the large CFDT union said it was time to recognize the government would not back down now, but the more militant CGT vowed to keep fighting.
"We will do everything we can to prevent these new measures taking effect," CGT boss Bernard Thibault, who said that 8,500 people had joined his organization since the protests began in earnest two months ago, told reporters.
Presidentflagship reform will raise the minimum and fully pensionable retirement ages by two years, to 62 and 67 respectively. Passed by parliament on October 27, it is awaiting what is expected to be a hitch-free clearance from the Constitutional Council before Sarkozy can sign it into law.
At their height last month, the French protests were the biggest in Europe against austerity measures adopted by many governments to cut debt and budget deficits in the wake of the global economic crisis.
But government and union counts showed Saturday's turnout was down by about two-thirds from mid-October -- at 375,000 versus a peak 1.2 million on the government estimate, and 1.2 million versus a peak 3.5 million according to the unions.
GOOD FOR SARKOZY!
WE NEED TO CRACK DOWN ON PUBLIC WORKERS' UNION BENEFITS HERE IN THE USA.
IT SHOULD BE ONE OF BOEHNER'S TOP PRIORITIES.