Monday, September 6, 2010

French Unions to Strike as Parliamentary Debate Over Pensions Begins

Lisbeth Latham

Hundreds of thousands of French workers are expected to join strikes to mark the beginning of parliamentary debates over a bill to reduce workers’ pension rights. The strikes have been called by an inter-union coordinating committee. Strikes in transport were scheduled to begin late on September 6, with workers in education, the Postal service and civil servants beginning their strikes on September 7.

Under the bill the workers retirement age will be increased from 60 to 62. The period that workers will need to work in order to qualify for a full pension will be increased from 40 to 41.5 years. While the amount that workers will have to pay into the scheme will be increased from 7.85% to 10.55% - enforcing an effective pay cut on all workers.

The mobilisations against pension reform have widespread support, with a weekend poll indicating that 63% of people believing the strikes were justified. The Sarkozy government has committed itself to pushing through the attack on the rights of retirees; however they have attempted to blunt resistance by delaying the implementation of the increase in retirement age until 2018, while the increase to the period of qualification will come into effect in 2020.

France’s pension scheme operates on a pay as you go system, which means that the payments of currently active workers fund the payments that are made to retired workers. As a consequence of shifts in France’s demographics with an aging population and long-life expectancies, government forecasts have estimated that there will be a short fall in the pension system of €100 billion ($140 billion) by 2050 and is using this drive push reduce pension rights and make French workers pay for maintaining the profitability of capital.

The militant confederation Solidaires argues that the pensions should be funded by reducing the dividends received by company shareholders, particularly France’s largest companies – who received €36 billion in dividends in 2009.

The inter-union coordinating committee will meet on September 8 to access the September 7 mobilizations and determine the next steps in the campaign.


About This Blog

Revitalising Labour attempts to reflect on efforts to rebuild the labour movement internationally, emphasising the role that left-wing political currents can play in this process. It welcomes contributions on union struggles, internal renewal processes within the labour movement and the struggle against capitalism and imperialism.

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP  

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia License.