Well, after the Sep 7 strikes, the unions have called for another day of protests in order to get the government to cede some more territory in the reform on pensions and retirement. But Sarkozy has vowed to not budge on the key issue – raising the age from 60 to 62 for retirement and from 65 to 67 for full pension access. As Labor Minister Eric Woerth was quoted by Reuters:
“We haven’t changed. We are very firm on the core of the reform, which is (the retirement) age.”
The government says the legislation is essential to erase a growing deficit in the pay-as-you-go pension system, curb rising public debt and preserve France’s coveted AAA credit ratings, which enables it to borrow at the lowest market rates…”If you don’t reform it, it simply won’t be viable and we won’t be able to pay French people’s pensions,” Woerth said.
This is turning out to be quite a fierce battle, and even though Sarkozy has been speaking around the country showing some concessionary measures (for arduous jobs like firemen and policemen, and taking into account the situations of working mothers), the core of the reform is on the table. It has been adopted by the National Assembly and is awaiting approval in the Senate.
So the unions are once again preparing for a day of “action” and even speaking about strikes in early October possibly touching weekend traffic. That’s just great. This is like protesting against the force of gravity and economic common sense. The unions are like little whining children. Let the adults do the work. Tomorrow’s strike will affect schools, the post office, some banks but especially public transport systems around the country.
RATP, the Parisian region transport authority, has posted updates for tomorrow’s traffic here. SNCF, the national railway operator, has posted information as well here. You can find information for other metro areas transport below, mostly in French. Le Figaro presents a great special report on the retirement reform here.
Other major cities and their transport systems below with relevant updates:
Lyon, Grenoble, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Strasbourg, Lille, Nice, Nantes, Rennes, Dijon, Brest, Caen, La Rochelle, Le Havre, Montpellier
With all of these disruptions, what you are planning on doing? Luckily in Paris, there will be 75% traffic on buses, so I’ll be OK. But for those opting for the Velib bike rental system in Paris, here is an interesting behind-the-scenes look at how Velib has been preparing for a day where they see a significant increase in bike usage (20-30% more on Sep. 7 than normal days, over 130,000 rentals per day).
UPDATE FROM BBC:
The walkouts are expected to hit transport the hardest. Only one in two trains will be running nationally and disruptions to services had already begun on Wednesday night….About half of flights at Paris Orly are to be cancelled, as well as 40% at the capital’s Charles de Gaulle airport, and 40% at other airports throughout the country, said the DGAC civil aviation authority…
….The pension reform bill has already been passed by France’s lower house of parliament. It will be debated from 5 October by the upper house, the Senate, where it is expected to pass comfortably.
France’s retirement age is lower than many countries in Europe. Under current rules, both men and women in France can retire at 60, providing they have paid social security contributions for 40.5 years – although they are not entitled to a full pension until they are 65.
The government says it will save 70bn euros (£58bn) by raising the retirement age to 62 by 2018, the qualification to 41.5 years, and the pension age to 67.
Unions and opposition politicians say the plan puts an unfair burden on workers, particularly women, part-timers and the former unemployed who might struggle to hit the 41.5 year requirement….