Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

No strategy and a beige suit

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014

Read more

ENCORE!

Alain Choquette: A Hilarious Magician in Paris

Read more

FOCUS

France welcomes Iraqi Christian refugees

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Emmanuel Macron: A new economy minister with a pro-business agenda

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

More of this year's best Observers stories

Read more

#TECH 24

Changing the world, one video game at a time

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Socialist Party summer conference kicks off in explosive atmosphere

Read more

  • Besieged UN peacekeepers battle Islamists in Golan Heights

    Read more

  • Ukrainian plane with seven on board crashes in Algeria

    Read more

  • Kerry calls for 'coalition of nations' to battle IS militants

    Read more

  • EU leaders meet in Brussels to seek a response to Russia

    Read more

  • Exclusive: Fabius warns Russia of more sanctions

    Read more

  • Lesotho army seizes police HQ, jams radio stations

    Read more

  • IMF backs Lagarde amid French corruption probe

    Read more

  • Ebola drug ‘ZMapp’ heals all monkeys in study

    Read more

  • British killer escapes from French psychiatric hospital

    Read more

  • Police hunt for British boy with brain tumour taken to France

    Read more

  • Ukraine to relaunch NATO membership bid

    Read more

  • Suriname leader’s son pleads guilty to courting Hezbollah

    Read more

  • Mapping Ukraine: Canada and Russia in ‘tweet for tat’ row

    Read more

  • France shines in IMF list of world’s promising economists

    Read more

  • Chelsea’s Torres set for AC Milan switch

    Read more

  • First case of Ebola confirmed in Senegal

    Read more

  • Obama has 'no strategy yet' against IS militants in Syria

    Read more

  • Netflix to woo French with ‘House of Cards’ set in Marseille

    Read more

  • French businesses ‘hoping for a new Thatcher’

    Read more

  • The deleted tweets of Manuel Valls

    Read more

  • Libyan PM resigns as Islamists set up rival administration

    Read more

France

Unions stage protests against plans for retirement age hike

Video by Nicolas RANSOM , Carla WESTERHEIDE

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-05-27

Tens of thousands of marchers gathered Thursday in several French cities after labour unions called for a day of strikes and protests against a government plan to raise the legal retirement age to help curb the country's mounting public deficit.

AFP - French labour unions staged a day of strikes and street rallies on Thursday to protest against President Nicolas Sarkozy's plan to raise the retirement age beyond 60 years.
   
Opinion polls show most voters oppose the reform and by midday tens of thousands of marchers had gathered in several cities, but there were mixed reports about participation in strike action.
   
Teaching unions announced that 40 percent of primary and secondary school teachers had gone on strike, whereas the education ministry put the figure at just over 12 percent.
   
Public transport was only mildly disrupted nationwide, with three quarters of regional trains and all high-speed TGV services running as normal and only very minor delays for some Paris commuters.
   
Nevertheless, a strike by air traffic controllers in support of the protest saw 30 percent of flights from Paris Orly airport cancelled and 10 percent from Charles de Gaulle, the environment ministry said.
   
"What happens today will be fairly decisive for how things develop," said Bernard Thibault, leader of the CGT, the largest of the broad coalition of trade unions organising the national protest.
   
"I'd like to see us exceed the mobilisation we achieved on March 23," he told Europe 1 radio, referring to France's last large-scale labour protest, when unions estimated turnout at 800,000 and the police at 350,000.
   
If the unions fail to mobilise a similar number this week, it will be seen as a victory for the government, but labour and opposition leaders said they were confident of a big turnout.
   
The postal service said that 12.58 percent of staff were on strike, slightly more than the 11.45 percent who walked out on March 23.
   
Polls published Thursday in two newspapers, Le Parisien and L'Humanite, found that around two thirds of French voters were prepared to join one of the dozens of rallies being organised around the country.
   
This appears to reflect growing opposition to Sarkozy's plan, which the government only confirmed this week.
   
A previous poll conducted this month by CSA/CECOP showed a narrow majority accept the change is inevitable, whereas a later survey found a similarly narrow majority think it unnecessary.
   
In common with much of Europe, France is grappling with a huge public deficit, and the government argues that reforming pension rules and delaying the minimum retirement age will help control mounting debt.
   
Many of France's neighbours have announced harsh spending cuts but Sarkozy, who is suffering record unpopularity and faces a re-election fight in two years, has been cautious, refusing to speak of an austerity programme.
   
Nevertheless, this week ministers confirmed what had long been suspected: that he plans to abolish retirement at 60, a cherished symbol for the French left of its victories under late president Francois Mitterrand.
   
French retirees receive 85 percent of their pension payments from state schemes, compared to an average of 61 percent among member states of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
   
Although 60 is the theoretical minimum age for retirement on a full state pension, various special schemes exist in the public sector for those with jobs perceived as tough or those who started in work in their teens.
   
On average French men retire at 58.7 years and women at 59.5, compared to an OECD average of 63.5 and 62.3, according to the body.
   
"It's a demographic problem. France is behind Malta as the country where we work the least," Budget Minister Francois Baroin told i-Tele.
   
Pensions account for the bulk of the social security budget, which can no longer in itself cover payments, with the excess being covered by state borrowing, forcing up France's public deficit.
   
According to the French government's panel studying pension finance, the shortfall between pension contributions and spending was 10.9 billion euros in 2008 and will rise to between 71.6 billion and 114.4 billion by 2050.

Date created : 2010-05-26

  • FRANCE

    Government to push for unpopular retirement age hike

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Sarkozy calls for constitution change to limit deficit

    Read more

COMMENT(S)