It’s Strike Season in France – Perhaps

It’s Strike Season in France – Perhaps
Following strike and demonstration days over French pension reform on Sep. 7, Sep. 23 and Oct. 2, a new day of strikes has been called for Tuesday, Oct. 12. At the heart of the declared grievances is the proposal to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 and right to touch full pension at 67 rather than 65. But there are many exceptions, nuances and details, such as the fact that this reform will be implemented over the course of the next several years until 2018. France currently has the lowest retirement age in Europe; 65 is a more realistic figure for bringing the deficit down but for now the French government is moving gradually. The unions do not seem to be quitting despite government determination to pass needed reform on retirement and pensions in order to reduce the deficit. The Elysée Palace (the French White House) is not backing down and sees these demonstrations as part of a “ritual” of opposition to proposed reform, but that the reform will pass anyway. The government is the one side that has showed flexibility and a willingness to negotiate, whereas unions are indoctrinated and being quite stubborn in the face of economic realities. For example, among other measures, President Sarkozy has proposed easing restrictions on pensions for working mothers: this idea would affect 130,000 women born between 1951 and 1955, who could get a full pension at 65 rather than 67, provided they had stopped work at least 1 year during the 3 years after the birth of a child. Eric Woerth, the Labor Minister, has been defending the reform for weeks including most recently in the Senate, where he said the government would not back down, despite opposition from the political left. So the unions have called for an ongoing strike on Oct. 12, which will likely affect transport all over the country, from SNCF national railway, metropolitan area transport, and perhaps the airports in Paris as well. But judging from past strikes against this reform, Paris public transport should still accessible; the most affected in Paris region are usually the RER suburban rail lines. You can stay tuned to, where on Oct. 11, I will post updates on the transport situation for the strikes.

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