FRANCE - Transport systems returned to normal as striking rail workers returned to work today, while unions remained divided over the success of the industrial action.
Rail and metro services were severely disrupted as union members walked out over government proposals to reform the ‘régimes spéciaux’ or preferential pensions benefits for public sector workers.
The union, Force Ouvrière (FO), said it had entered into negotiations only after the Sarkozy government had backed down over insisting strike action was to be halted before discussions could begin.
FO said: “To impose such a perquisite revealed an incredible lack of wisdom for those who should know a little about social relations.”
Sud Rail released a statement last night criticising other unions of caving to pressure and calling for unity: “Strikers know we can attain a lot if we stick together…broken unity makes the situation much more difficult.”
The CGT union said the government had realised it had to include employee groups if it wanted to move pension discussions forward.
The CGT said: “When talking about retirement, all workers are involved. The battle to save and improve the retirement system has started once again and must be pushed to the forefront.”
Strikes hit France in the evening of 13 November.
Under the current ‘régimes spéciaux’ terms, workers are eligible to retire after 37.5 years as opposed to 40 for other public and private sector workers.
At present, the French economy subsidises the régimes spéciaux by around €5bn (US$7.3bn) as worker contributions do not meet fund liabilities.
The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) has announced it will shrink its board by more than one-third as part of a governance overhaul to make it "agile and more appropriate".
Smaller FTSE 350 defined benefit (DB) schemes were nearly 15 percentage points less well-funded than larger schemes in 2017, according to a Goldman Sachs Asset Management (GSAM) analysis.
The advent of collective pension systems could help the UK avoid demographic challenges which will make it "impossible" for society to help savers in retirement, experts say.