FRANCE - French president Nicolas Sarkozy's long awaited announcement on pension reform has been met with harsh criticism by some trade unions who claimed it was unfeasible
The Conféderation française démocratique du travail (CFDT) and Force Ouvrière (FO) said the 14 day period of debate over the realignment of public and private pension schemes announced by Sarkozy was unrealistic.
Francois Chérèque, general secretary, CFDT, said the union was ready to engage with politicians, but warned: “You cannot carry out five social reforms in France at the same time, and by wanting to do things too fast, we would botch the job.”
Chérèque added the union disagreed with the president over the reduction of working hours and transferring pension arrangements to private insurance companies.
In a statement, FO called Sarkozy’s reforms “unacceptable”.
The union added that the President intended to make its members “work for longer with a view to an increasingly lower level of retirement provision”.
This reaction came to Sarkozy’s announcement yesterday that the “régimes spéciaux”, the special retirement systems which for many years have granted perks to public sector workers, would be brought more in line with the rest of the French workforce.
“It’s a question of fairness,” said the president. He added that the unions would have to be consulted on any change to the systems.
In its current state, the French economy subsidises these “régimes spéciaux” by around €5bn as worker contributions do not meet fund liabilities.
The last attempt at reforming these systems in 1995 by the prime minister at the time, Alain Juppé, resulted in mass protest and Juppé backing down.
Reforms in 2003 also avoided public sector pensions to avoid potential strike action.
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