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Retirees Mobilizing on June 3 to Defend Purchasing Power

Translated Tuesday 10 June 2014, by Gene Zbikowski

The Valls government intends to freeze retirement pensions until 2015, and retirees will rally at 11 a.m. on June 3 at Place Joffre in Paris to condemn the reduction in their purchasing power. “Retirement is not a privilege, it is a right” say the trade union organizations CGT, FO, CFTC, FSU, Solidaires, USR, UNPA, FRC and CFE-CGC, which are angry at the Socialist Party government.

Indignant at having to tighten their belts at the end of the month, worried about falling ill and not being able to pay their medical expenses, weary of government policies that attack them in trying to save billions of euros on what they have a right to, retirees are not living the life of Riley.

“Today’s retirees participated in the nation’s development and in inter-generational solidarity. They naturally should receive their due,” the CGT says deploringly.

Well, they’re going to let it be known loud and clear by gathering for a giant pick-nick at 11 a.m. in Place Joffre in Paris. Following lunch on the grass, the retirees’ organizations of the CGT, FO, CFTC, FSU, Solidaires, USR, UNPA, FRC and CFE-CGC are also calling for a mobilization of retirees for a big march to Montparnasse, “against the freezing of pensions, for a hike in purchasing power and renewal of the annual cost-of-living increase in pensions.”

The increase in value-added tax, the 0.3% tax on taxable retirement pensions, the putting off of the next cost-of-living increase in pensions until October 1, 2014, the difficulty for retirees of getting medical treatment - all this has pushed retirees to demonstrate their anger on June 3.

While Bruno Le Roux, the president of the Socialist Party group in the National Assembly, pointed out a few weeks ago “that a gesture in favor of the poorest retirees would be made,” for Thierry Lepaon, the CGT general secretary, this is far from enough: “Retired workers have a right to expect, not gestures, but rather a social policy that recognizes their problems. For years, there’s been a problem financing retirement pensions in this country. The government has never wanted to come to grips with this question of financing. Today, we’re going to force them to. And to cite just one figure, 17% of all retirees are living on less than 600 euros a month."

In view of a 15% fall in retirees’ purchasing power, mainly due to pensions not having kept pace with the cost of living, the CGT’s organization for retirees is demanding, among other things, an immediate 300-euro-a-month hike for all retirees, a minimum retirement equal to the minimum wage, and coverage of the autonomy of aged persons by government medical insurance [the French equivalent of Medicare].

By advancing retirement as something that is owed, because “retirement is not a privilege or a welfare benefit. It is a right obtained through work and its amount is the direct result of the pay received during a working life combined with the number of years of contributions,” the trade union is demanding that savings in the French budget be found elsewhere than in the pretended cost of labor and social protection (retirement, family benefits…).

Gathering at 11 a.m. in Place Joffre, opposite the Eiffel tower, for a giant pick-nick. Speeches and musical entertainment in Place Joffre. After the rally, a march to the Montparnasse train station. Itinerary: Departure from Place Joffre via Avenue Motte-Picquet, Avenue de Tourville, Boulevard des Invalides, Boulevard Montparnasse, to Montparnasse train station.

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