As unions flip the screws, French PM says pension reform unavoidable

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PARIS (Information) – French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe mentioned on Friday nationwide strikes within the public sector wouldn’t weaken his resolve to reform the pension system however promised staff can be spared a brutal transition to the brand new regime.

Philippe mentioned he was not in search of confrontation with commerce unions, which on Friday known as for mass protests and strikes over plans to streamline one of many developed world’s most beneficiant pension programs to proceed subsequent week.

The federal government desires to switch a byzantine system comprised of greater than 40 separate pension plans, every with various advantages, with a single, points-based system below which for every euro contributed, each pensioner has equal rights.

“Residents know that the vastly various nature of the present 42 pension plans can not proceed,” Philippe mentioned in a televised assertion. “In addition they know we’re going to need to work longer.”

On Friday, commuters confronted extreme disruption attending to and from work for a second day and the state-run SNCF railways mentioned practice providers would stay impacted by the weekend and on Monday. Faculties and hospitals have been additionally left understaffed.

A day earlier, tear fuel and smoke hung over elements of Paris and Nantes as protests turned violent.

The strike pits commerce unions decided to safeguard employee protections towards President Emmanuel Macron, a 41-year-old former funding banker who took workplace in 2017 on a promise of opening up France’s extremely regulated financial system.

The end result will hinge on who blinks first – the unions who danger dropping public help if the disruption goes on for too lengthy, or the president whose two-and-a-half years in workplace have been rocked by waves of social unrest.

“PAINFUL” REFORM

Macron seems reluctant to easily increase the retirement age of 62. One various is to curb advantages for many who cease working earlier than 64 and reinforce those that go away later.

A French SNCF railway employee on strike holds a CGT labour union flag as he walks on a platform at Good railway station because the nationwide strike continues towards French authorities’s pensions reform plans, France, December 6, 2019. Information/Eric Gaillard

Room for concessions might lie within the tempo at which the modifications are phased in.

Philippe on Friday left open the potential of together with a “grandfathering” clause for staff on the SNCF and Paris public transport agency RATP, a few of whom get pleasure from particular advantages together with retirement at 52, a decade sooner than the common employee.

“To all RATP and SNCF workers I say that it will not be cheap or truthful to vary the principles of the sport after the sport has began,” Philippe mentioned.

The federal government utilized the same method final 12 months when it modified decades-old phrases of employment for SNCF staff, sustaining job-for-life ensures for current workers, however ending that profit for brand spanking new recruits.

For now, public opinion is comparatively evenly divided, surveys present.

“We’re all in the identical scenario,” mentioned commuter Micheline Rossi, sympathetic to the strikers’ trigger. “With the points-based pension system, we’ll lose out, too, similar to them.”

Slideshow (17 Photographs)

One other mentioned: “We have to reform pensions. It’s going to be painful, painful for everybody. But when we need to have a pension sooner or later, this has to cross.”

Macron’s pension tsar Jean-Paul Delevoye is because of maintain talks with the unions on Monday earlier than the prime minister presents the broad outlines of the reform to the general public mid-week.

Further reporting by Simon Carraud, Bate Felix, Tangi Salaun and Sophie Louet; Writing by Christian Lowe and Richard Lough; Enhancing by Toby Chopra