French pension reform heads to austerity amid public indignation

08:28, June 18, 2010      

Email | Print | Subscribe | Comments | Forum 

The French government's pension reform bill, which was announced to prolong legal retirement age 62 in 2018, was massively slashed by labor unions and the Socialist Party on Thursday, but solid support is there forwarding the irreversible trend.

The French government published the Woerth Bill, named after the Labor Minister Eric Woerth, on Wednesday morning, laying out austerity measures in 17 aspects.

The principle changes include: to raise the legal retirement age to 62 in 2018, to increase the contribution period to 41.5 years in 2020, to narrow down the gap of contribution rates between public sector and private sector in coming 10 years, and to implement several new taxes on the rich, which may affect around 350,000 households.

Aiming to redress the endangered public financing for the costly French Pay-As-You-Go pension system, the Bill counts on these measures to bring the treasury 30 billion euros (37 billion U.S. dollars) in 2020.

To avoid large public opposition, the government actually avoided too aggressive approach by leaving certain privileged " special pension regimes" untouched, such as vocations like nurses and conductors of French national railway station (SNCF).

Despite of the smaller target scope, SNCF announced a national strike on June 24. In addition, French unions nevertheless swear to take to streets before summer.

Berbard Thibault, the general secretary of France's biggest labor union CGT accused the Woerth Bill a "brutal reform" and "an unprecedented social drawback."

"We are going to work more but earn less," Jean Claude Mailly, the chief of Force of Labor Workers (FO) said, mocking Nicolas Sarkozy's presidency campaign slogan "work more and earn more."

Jacques Voisin, general secretary of CFTC (French Federation of Christian Workers) criticized that the government plan has broken the principle of equality. The former Prime Minister Laurent Fabius, a Socialist Party member, commented the Bill made no progress either in terms of justice or with regard to the public financing.

Still, positive reactions exist albeit in lower voice. "There is no unnecessary violence in this reform bill," said Gerard Longuet, the President of the ruling party UMP at the Senate House.

Solid support came from the cabinet. Up to Thursday, four among six ministers, who enjoy a second cumulative pension income due to additional parliament seats, renounced the accumulation of their parliamentarian pension on top of their ministerial salary.

The debate is going on, so does the austere reform. Just as lots of observers pointed out, there would never be a plan that can satisfy each concerned party.

Recent polls actually indicated considerable sympathy with the need to reform the pension system as French budget deficit is expected to reach 117.6 billion euros (176.7 billion dollars) in 2010.

"It is imperative that we salvage our pensions system," Woerth has spoken out the necessity to bring down the soaring deficit.

The Council of Ministers will give final review of the bill on July 13, before presenting it to the parliaments for approval in September.

Source: Xinhua


  • Do you have anything to say?


Special Coverage
  • Premier Wen Jiabao visits Hungary, Britain, Germany
  • From drought to floods
Major headlines
Editor's Pick
  • Giant red lantern lights up in Tiananmen Square to celebrate the coming National Day on Oct. 1. (Xinhua/Li Xin)
  • A ceremony is held in Taipei, southeast China's Taiwan, on Sept. 28, 2011, to commemorate the 2,562nd birthday of Confucius (551-479 BC), a Chinese thinker, educationist and philosopher. (Xinhua/Wu Ching-teng)
  • The world's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner for delivery arrives at Haneda airport in Tokyo, capital of Japan, on Sept. 28, 2011. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner, whose buyer is All Nippon Airways (ANA), will implement a flight of ANA on Oct. 26 from Tokyo's Narita Airport to Hong Kong in south China. (Xinhua/Ji Chunpeng)
  • A Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) fighter shows what is believed to be human jawbone found inside a mass grave near Abu Salim prison in Tripoli, Libya, Spet. 27, 2011. The NTC on Sunday said they had found a mass grave containing the bodies of 1,270 people killed by Gaddafi's security forces in a 1996 massacre at Abu Salim prison in southern Tripoli. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)
  • Rescue workers and local residents search for survivors after a building collapsed in old Delhi, India, Sept. 27, 2011. At least 10 people were killed and 35 injured when an old three-storey building collapsed. More than a dozen people are still feared trapped under the debris, police said. (Xinhua/Partha Sarkar)
  • A visitor has flying experience in the windmill castle of Jinshitan National Holiday resort in Dalian, northeast China's Liaoning Province, Sept. 27, 2011. The castle is a 23-meter-high building with 21 meters in diameter. The castle uses wind tunnel to make objects floating in the air. It is the first indoor stadium in China, which enables people to have flying experience. (Xinhua/Zhang Chunlei)
Hot Forum Discussion