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say people will register their anger on the streets
French Government and unions are squaring up for a summer battle over
Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who has formally presented his
controversial plans to the cabinet, says France must introduce the changes
to head off a crisis in years to come.
unions have threatened to fight the plans tooth and nail, with a campaign
of strikes and mass street protests.
Tuesday, French teachers held the fourth in a series of strikes in protest
at the changes and other reforms to the education system.
national strike has been called for next Tuesday, with a mass
demonstration planned for Paris two weeks after that.
plans include forcing state employees to work an extra two-and-a-half
years in order to claim a full pension, and raising contributions in 2008.
last French Government which attempted the same type of pension reforms,
in 1995, was crippled by street protests, and lost an election two years
Raffarin is attempting to head off a pensions crisis as more people reach
retirement age and live longer, while the French birthrate remains low.
He is also
under pressure to meet European targets on budget deficits, and his
government has announced it will freeze spending next year in an attempt
to bring its predicted 3.6% deficit back within eurozone limits of 3%.
European Commission told France on Wednesday it had until October to put
its affairs in order, either by cutting spending or raising taxes.
options being considered is slicing through France's large army of civil
servants. Media reports suggest 30,000 posts will go next year through
it is pension reform which analysts say presents Mr Raffarin with his most
placed full-page advertisements in French national papers on Wednesday,
explaining why reform was vital.
1960 there were four workers to pay for the pension of every retired
person," he wrote. "In 2000 there were only two; in 2020 a
single worker will have to subsidise the needs of each pensioner.
"What that means is that if we do nothing today, in 20 years our
pensions will be reduced by a half.
more than 50 years ago, our retirement system no longer corresponds to the
reforms are due for cabinet approval on 28 May and will have to then be
accepted by both houses of parliament.
Thibault, secretary-general of the CGT union, said people would take to
the streets to register their anger.
government would be wrong to believe that just because it is not
politically in any danger it is protected from a large-scale social
movement on pensions," he said.
suggest that many French people accept the need for change, but some are
angry that people are being forced to work longer.
years is enough, especially in a tiring job like mine," said Paris
decorator Jean-Marc Morato.
have friends of 60, they ache all over, they're half dead. Someone who
starts work at 16 should be able to retire at 56.
we had to pay in for 37-and-a-half years, then they changed it to 40. Soon
they'll say 45 years."
say France is behind other nations in introducing public sector reforms.
25 years after Britain, 15 years after Italy and 10 years after Spain,
France finally started to cut back the public sphere, it would be a
revolution," said Alexis Brezet, an analyst for the right-wing Le
said the proposed reforms might not go far enough.
are behind other countries in Europe," said Monika Queisser, pensions
expert at the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
"They are moving in the right direction, but these are small steps."