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Pensioners: back to work!

In tough economic times, and with small retirement benefits, many French pensioners are forced to go back to work to make ends meet. But finding a job is no easy task when you're over 60.

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The “golden age” of retirement, when retired people travelled and spent money on their grandchildren, is over. These days, 63% of French people say they'd like to keep working after the age of 65.

Jean, 74, and his wife Josiane, 69, make do with 800 euros a month. Jean wants to keep working to earn extra money and goes round the local market trying to find work, but without success.

Aurore Dumonteil quickly understood the phenomenon and created her own company, an online service jobs agency. The website has offers for small electrical work, plumbing, gardening, or babysitting. Aurore never imagined that her site would draw so many retired people. But in these difficult economic times, they are the first victims of the crisis.

Afford little luxuries

Bruno, a 60-year-old pensioner, put an advert on the site, and it worked. Today he will earn ten euros for an hour of gardening. Bruno doesn’t want to work full-time, but the extra money from these little jobs is more than welcome. His pension is no more than 850 euros a month – only enough to cover the basics. With this extra money, he can afford little luxuries: "It's nice to be able to go to the movies once in a while, and buy a book. Or go to McDonalds from time to time with your grandkids."

Monique, 71, babysits full time to supplement her pension. She says her family depends on her to support them and feels she has no choice but to work. She points out that, as an extra injustice, "your retirement pension is calculated, at least for my generation, on your salary for the last ten years you worked. Seeing as women are paid less than men, it's obvious that their pension will be less than for men".

Insufficient increase

The difficulties facing retirees have spilled out onto the streets. Pensioners all over France have demonstrated for an immediate increase in their pensions. Although the government raised pensions by 0,8% last September to keep in line with inflation, the union leaders insist it’s not enough.

For Jean and Josiane, time is running out. They know that they only have a few years left to maximize their purchasing power and their pension. For the moment they can live in their apartment, but one day, they will no longer be able to take care of themselves, and they wonder how they'll pay for a retirement home.

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