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Retirement at 60: Fair But Can Do Better, Trade Unions Say

Translated Thursday 7 June 2012, by Gene Zbikowski and reviewed by Henry Crapo

Overall, the trade unions have welcomed the mechanism for a partial return to retirement at age 60 for workers who began working before age 20. While they hail the decree presented at the Council of Ministers on June 6, they underline its limitations and eagerly await the July social conference.

The CFDT proved most demonstrative with regard to the Ayrault government decree. Jean-Louis Malys, the CFDT’s national secretary for retirement said the CFDT “congratulated itself on the extension of the opportunity for early retirement for workers who began working at age 18 or 19 and who have paid into the retirement fund for 41 years.” In its press statement, the union emphasized that “this measure, which was obtained by the CFDT in 2003, has already benefitted over 650,000 workers.” The union hopes that the extension of the mechanism “will partly correct the inequalities created by raising the retirement age to 62.”

Insufficient “as regards periods of illness, on-the-job accidents, and unemployment”

The CGT expressed the same satisfaction in a more measured way. In a press statement, the union evaluated the mechanism as a “positive” one that “breaks with the policies conducted everywhere in Europe.” The CGT desires that the measure be “part of a dynamic of returning to retirement at age 60 for all.” The CGT “nonetheless regrets that the validation of quarters counting towards retirement does not go further, notably as regards compensating for periods of illness, on-the-job-accidents, and unemployment”

It “would also have appreciated it if the government had re-established the Retirement Equivalent Allocation that was abolished by the preceding government, which has led to a number of older unemployed workers, who are no longer eligible for unemployment benefits, only receiving the Specific Solidarity Allocation, which amounts to 468.90 euros a month.” More generally, the CGT indicated that at the upcoming social conference on July 9 and 10 it will “put forward the demand for the re-establishment of retirement at age 60 for all,” with real consideration of the wear and tear associated with certain trades.

“Insufficient as regards long periods of unemployment”

“In the right direction,” but “insufficient,” such is also Jean-Claude Mailly’s evaluation. On the Europe 1 radio network Jean-Claude Mailly, the general secretary of FO, hailed the fact that the government is adding “six months, that is to say two quarters, for maternity leave, and two quarters as well to take unemployment into account, but it is insufficient if, for example, you take the case of people who have experienced unemployment over long periods.”

UNSA raises the same question: “We don’t understand why it’s two quarters. We’re going to ask the administrators of the Ministry of Social Affairs for an explanation,” emphasized Jean Grosset, the deputy general secretary of UNSA. Both FO and UNSA are also awaiting the July conference, because “the debate on retirement will recommence on every aspect of the matter.”

Insufficient for “mothers of more than two children”

For her part, Pascale Coton, the general secretary of the CFTC, regrets that the decree does not provide a bigger bonus for mothers of more than two children. “Two additional quarters does not suffice for mothers of more than two children, at least four quarters would have been required (…). When there were more than two children, it was mainly the women who went on parental leave or who worked part time, and with two additional quarters they will never attain 41 years of payment into the retirement fund, even if they began working at age 18 or 19.”

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