Yesterday, the French prime minister gave a major speech about the government's plans to deal with the crisis. According to an editorial in the left-leaning Paris newspaper Libération, he ventured into controversial territory and has made the situation even worse. When he was running for election in 2017, French president Macron (who appoints the prime minister) promised that he wouldn't raise the current retirement age, which is 62. Here's a translation of the editorial:
Let's salute this tour de force. Yesterday Prime Minister Edouard Philippe gave a major speech in an attempt to calm the ongoing strikes against government-proposed pension plan reforms. He has succeeded only in uniting everyone against the government. His goal was to resolve the conflict that is paralyzing the the national railways, only to see it now double in intensity. He wanted to divide and conquer the subway drivers, but now they are more united against him than ever. He sought to reassure teachers, but they're even more uneasy and anxious. He thought he could make a separate deal with hospital workers; instead, they've joined the movement against the government's plans. He reached out to white collar workers for support, and now they will be demonstrating next week as well. He moved to exempt the police from the planned pension reforms — now they plan to take an even harder line against his proposals.Meanwhile, a fairly big wind- and rainstorm is moving in off the Atlantic today. We will probably be closing shutters and staying in except for the mandatory walks with the dog. I have a pot of beans cooking on the stove for our lunch and I'll make a big salad. Hang on tight.
The prime minister thought he might be able to win neutrality from two of the country's major labor unions. One of them has now said that it is determined to prolong the strike, and the leader of the second stormed out, furious. What a stellar success! The prime minister had warned he could not perform miracles. In fact, he actually performed one: he turned the white flag of surrender into a bloody-red rag.
How did this happen? As I wrote last Tuesday, the main mistake the prime minister needed to avoid was mixing together wide-ranging social and government reforms with short-term economic measures. Instead of avoiding that trap, Edouard Philippe fell right into it. After enumerating a series of changes to already announced government plans that he thought would reassure workers in one group or another — some of his concessions were significant, which shows strikers that their movement is working — he insisted on the idea based on a "pivotal age" that he is now calling an "equilibrium" age for retirees. From here on out, workers will have to stay on the job until age 64 if they want to retire with a full pension. According to the prime minister, people who leave the work force earlier will get a reduced retirement pension, and those who stay longer will get a bigger pension. For him, this is the only logical plan. For the unions, it is the kind of slip of the tongue that reveals the government's real intentions and sends union members and leaders into bouts of apoplexy.
In the current battle, the labor leader who was the government's only possible ally issued only this terse reaction: "A red line has been crossed." Edouard Philippe says that "the door is open" and that "his hand is outstretched." Nevertheless, the door seems to have slammed shut, the outstretched hand has gone limp, and, in all likelihood, commuters and other transit users will still be hoofing it next week.
This all sounds so more than unfortunate. I have good friends who tried to have a holiday vacation in Paris a few years ago when there was another strike going on and now they just say they will never return to France. I am surprised the Prime Minister could make such a mistake.ReplyDelete
Anyway, have a good lunch and hunker down.
Very interesting. While I don't think working to 64 is too unreasonable as long as something is in place for workers who do hard manual work, who wants to lose what they have? I do admire how the general French population will fight hard to keep their rights.ReplyDelete
I do wish the US population had the same fighting spirit as the French with regard to certain individuals.Delete
Ken, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel will be the escape you need.
Diogenes, what happened to the American people?Delete
How did they become so apathetic? I remember the demonstrations in Washington, DC, against the Vietnam war! Now, young people here are just lavettes! I'm much too old to do anything, but as we say in French, my blood is boiling in my veins.
LOL! It seems that the word lavette exists in English, but doesn't have the same meaning as it has in familier French,Delete
Here is the French definition : Familier. Personne sans énergie, molle comme une chiffe.
We might say "a wet noodle" for a lavette. Or there's the term "apathetic." In my translation of the Libé article I'm not sure I got the part about un âge pivot and un âge d'équilibre right. It's not clear in French. Jargon...Delete
I think that by âge pivot ou âge d'équilibre, the Prime Minister means the age, 64, at which you can retire with a full pension. If you retire earlier, you lose some of your pension, that is malus, or if you keep on working you get a bonus. At least, that's the way I understand it.Delete
I think you can retire right now with a full pension at age 62. It must be said, I'm not familiar with retirement regulations in France.
Neither am I very familiar with French retirement rules and plans.Delete
We have a neighbor down the road who told me a few years ago that he had started working for the national railway system, la SNCF, when he was 14 years old. Therefore he was eligible for retirement and his pension at age 54, after 40 years of service. Under new rules, would he have been required to work until he was 64 years old? I really don't know how it all works.
Thanks you two for translating lavette, because I would have looked it up. I guess part of the reason for the laissez faire attitude is the economy, which has been tweaked upwards by low interest rates. 1969 was a recession and students paid virtually nothing for state college tuition. Now they must pay a fortune, so probably many work and don't have the time?Delete
I started collecting my small French retirement pension when I turned 65. That way, I think, I'm getting the maximum that I could get under the plan. Of course, I didn't even know that I qualified for a French retirement pension until we moved here in 2003. Suddenly, one day, a letter came in the mail informing me of the benefit I was eligible for. Quelle surprise !Delete
The whole world is in flux... too many governments have pulled money from pension pots to fund other things... the fact that they should've ringfenced that escaped them!ReplyDelete
The planet is currently "living above its means"... the UK is currently in a state of electronic civil war, the country divided right down the middle... and I fear that it will get worse!
However.... life needs to go on... these things are currently out of Joe Soap's control.... and Joe Soap needs to look after him or herself!
When I left full time employment and started to work for myself, the retirement age for a full salary pension was 65.
That was changed when my local government pension was sold off to another organisation... it dropped to 60... because I had been moving around, the letter informing me of this change never reached me.
So, four years ago, I tried to track my pension down... and received a nice surprise... I had accumulated five years of pension to be taken as a lump sum or added to the pot, or both... I chose both.
But retirement at 60 has never been a "full pension" option in the UK for the Government DWP pension... you can retire, but you won't get a full pension.
Just noticed the first line of the above is missing, sorry...Delete
Congrats CHM on reaching a grand milestone!
Excellent translation. Who knew! ;-) I worked until my agency retired me at age seventy-two, so I have no say.ReplyDelete
I retired at age 53. No pension for me at that age, but all has worked out well.Delete
As I understand it, some French workers (such as those for SNCF) got very good pensions in part because their jobs were difficult and often dangerous. But that was then. Now, not so much. And neither the population nor the economy is growing enough to continue funding at national rates nearly twice as great as other industrialized countries (excluding the US, which has no pension system to speak of). Something's gotta give, lest the system consume itself in fairly short order.ReplyDelete
In the US news, where weather coverage stops short at the Canadian border as if the Maritimes never have weather, I've found close to zero coverage of the situation in France.
Sorry Loulou's having a hard time, though. She has been very generous with information over time.
Our economies are in transition now that we have robots, computers, etc. It will take time to adjust. The future is changing, let's hope France and the USA make good decisions. Brexit is going to be interesting. I'm glad you all chose early retirement- I'm also glad my husband did as well.ReplyDelete
One thing that hasn't been mentioned here is that any new retirement rules, under the current proposal, will apply only to workers/employees who were born in 1975 or later.ReplyDelete
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