Published On: Thu, Oct 31st, 2019

Macron to push ahead with controversial pension reform – even if it makes him ‘unpopular’ | World | News

He added the reform was a key part of his campaign promise to “transform” French society. He continued: “I will see this reform through to the end, even if it makes me unpopular” before adding that it was “necessary for the country”. French unions have called for a nationwide strike on December 5 to protest the pension reform which is expected to paralyse public transport and other key sectors.

Wildcat strikes last week caused huge disruptions on France’s national rail operator SNCF, while a strike by workers on the Paris metro last month brought the entire network to a halt.

M Macron’s move to modernise the retirement system is part of a wider plan to put the country on solid financial ground, though the delicate mission calls for painful changes in a country where declining purchasing power triggered an unprecedented social crisis late last year.

But M Macron says he wants to make the pension system, which is projected to be in financial deficit in coming years, fairer and more sustainable.

In France, private pension schemes are rare and almost everyone pays into a public system, albeit 42 different contribution and benefit schemes that M Macron wants to replace with a single-based scheme.

The average French pension this year stands at €1,400 (£1,200) a month once taxes are deducted. But that average conceals important differences across the 42 different systems.

The age at which a person can start drawing a full pension is shaping up to be the main point of contention.

M Macron has promised that the legal retirement age will remain at 62 but that new conditions might in effect mean that those entering retirement in the future may have to work longer – a possibility that has angered unions.

The bill is expected to be debated by politicians next summer. 

The Macron government has said that the changes would only apply to people born after 1963 and enter progressively into force between 2025 and 2040.

Pension reforms by former conservative presidents Nicolas Sarkozy in 2010 and Jacques Chirac in 1995 ignited mass street protests and failed to plug stubborn deficits, which M Macron wants to wipe out by 2025.

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