Strike against French pension reform fizzles


| Zoom

PARIS (AP) - A nationwide strike in France against the government's plan to plug a 20 billion-euro hole in the country's pension system has elicited the equivalent of a Gallic shrug.

The strike called by four unions Tuesday against the Socialist government's proposed reform had almost no impact on traffic across France's rail, bus and subway systems. That is in sharp contrast to the sometimes violent protests that erupted the last time a French government attempted to reform the retirement system.

Several thousand demonstrators marched in Paris and in 180 other towns and cities, but with some moderate unions declining to participate, mobilization withered.

The organizers, including far-left political parties, reject a reform they see as unfair.

"Forty-three years of work for our children, who start working at 25 or 27 years old. They won't retire until they're 68 years old! I really believe it is just unthinkable," said demonstrator Marie-Claude Lecouvreur from Paris.

The French plan would gradually extend the number of years employees must pay contributions to claim a full pension, from 41 years now to 43 years in 2035. The move is one way to force workers to delay their age of retirement. People wishing to draw their pension from the minimum age of 62 need to have that qualifying period, otherwise the funds they get are reduced. By age 67, all French workers are allowed to draw a full pension.

The reform will go through parliament this fall.

In 2010, the previous pension reform raised the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62 and led to several mass protests.

French President Francois Hollande has ruled out any radical changes to the generous French pension system. In addition, the reform doesn't touch the privileged deals of certain professions, such as railway workers, who can retire earlier than others.

France spends about 14 percent of its GDP on its state retirement system, compared with 5 percent spent on Social Security in the United States.

___

Associated Press reporter Sohrab Monemi contributed to this report.


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Top Stories

  • Bunker Hideout
    Investigation reveals bunker on wanted couple's Yelm property
ATTENTION COMMENTERS: We've changed our comments, but want to keep you in the conversation.
Please login below with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing MyNorthwest account holders will need to create a new Disqus account or use one of the social logins provided below. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus
Sign up for breaking news e-mail alerts from MyNorthwest.com
In the community
Do you know a student who stands out in the classroom, school and community?
Help make their dreams come true by nominating them for a $1,000 scholarship and a chance to earn a $10,000 Grand Prize. Brought to you by KIRO Radio and Comprehensive Wealth Management.

Do you know an exceptional citizen who has impacted and inspired others?
KIRO Radio and WSECU would like to recognize six oustanding citizens this year. Nominate them to be recognized and to receive a $2,000 charitable grant.