FRANCE - Commuters in Paris and other major French cities were faced with massive disruptions to their journeys today, as the long threatened transport strike over pension reforms finally went ahead.
Members of France’s largest transport unions walked out last night at 8pm, (Paris time) and were not expected to return to work until midnight tonight.
The ensuing chaos has left all but one of the Parisian metro lines without a regular service and only 47 of over 700 TGV services were running, although the Eurostar was largely unaffected, because of British and Belgian support.
As Global Pensions had previously reported, President Sarkozy had pressed for wide ranging reforms of the ‘Special Pension Regimes’ (‘régimes spéciaux’) available to public sector workers.
In a speech given on 18 September, Sarkozy pledged to bring the ‘régimes speciaux’ into line with other pension schemes by early 2008.
Under the current terms, workers were eligible to retire after 37.5 years as opposed to 40 for other public and private sector workers.
At present, the French economy subsidies the ‘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.
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