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Eric Aubin “Now we have to make a success of September 10, to change the situation on the ground.”

Translated Thursday 5 September 2013, by Gene Zbikowski

Eric Aubin is the man in charge of retirement matters at the CGT. He regrets that the government has not listened to the trade union confederation, which is putting forward a completely different proposal for reform.

You said on August 27 that you felt you had not been heard. What aspects of the projected reform seem most open to criticism to you?

Eric Aubin: We feel we haven’t been heard because we were putting forward a veritable reform of the financing of social protection, and notably of the retirement funds, which made it possible both to balance the budget of those funds in the short, middle, and long term, and to revise measures that are costing today’s retirees a lot and which are going to cost future retirees a lot.

Notably, we wanted to revise the price indexing adopted by Balladur in 1993. We’re also proposing a return to pegging retirement pensions to the best ten dues-paying years, a return to retirement from age 60, and the abolition of the clause in the Fillon law that automatically links the dues-paying period to life expectancy.

But the present government considers these measures to be a given. They say they aren’t going to change the pension amount, but, in rendering the conditions for obtaining a full retirement harder and in lengthening the dues-paying period, the main consequence is going to be lower pensions, all the more so in a period in which the employment situation is catastrophic.

It’s known that fewer than one worker in two still has a job at age 60. What’s more, this is an anti-youth measure because young people are entering the labor market later. Even with the proposed measure consisting in buying four quarters, young people will retire long after age 65 in order to obtain a full pension. And it mustn’t be forgotten that retirees are also being made to pay: delaying the inflation-based increase from April to October is going to lower their purchasing power.

The second measure that angers us is the transfer of family social security from contributions to taxes. This has been demanded for a long time by the MEDEF, the main bosses’ organization in France. The government’s making them a present of the 5.4% contribution to family social security in exchange for a very limited increase in the old age contribution. Yet again, after presents like the competitiveness tax credit, the bosses are the winners.

As concerns its method, this government is even worse than the previous one, since they’re announcing the use of emergency procedures in Parliament. Consequently, there won’t be any back and forth between the National Assembly and the Senate, so as to prevent there being any public debate or as big a mobilization as possible.

What do you think of what the government’s offering in return, notably concerning hard jobs?

Eric Aubin: With regard to hard jobs, while the measure put forward may appear positive, the proposed index isn’t good. They’re proposing retirement one year earlier for thirty years doing a hard job! With the legal retirement age at 62, that means that the worker’s going to retire at age 61, whereas the workers who are doing hard jobs leave companies at around age 55. For the “stock,” that is to say those for whom prevention can no longer have any effect, they have eliminated the physical effort criterion. Hence several tens of thousands of workers doing hard tasks no longer qualify for the measure. As to the 10% increase for those who have three or more children, it was originally set up to compensate for the fact that a household with three children has a hard time creating a patrimony, and the change to a flat rate completely changes the nature of the mechanism.

So, do these announcements reinforce your determination for the September 10 day of demonstrations?

Eric Aubin: It is necessary to create the conditions for the biggest possible mobilization on September 10, since the proposed reform will be presented to the French Cabinet on September 18. This can make it yet possible to change this reform. Four trade union confederations are calling for demonstrations, and we feel that we can widen the extent of the mobilization. The government’s feverish, you can see that in the backtracking that we obtained, despite everything, in calling for demonstrations – to wit, on the de-indexation of retirement pensions and on basing the rules for calculating public-sector retirement pensions on those used in the private sector, two measures on which they have backtracked.

Now, we have to make a success of September 10 to change the situation on the ground. The battle over retirement is a battle which makes it possible to raise a whole set of demands, such as jobs, wages, and working conditions. The best way to finance our social protection is to have as many jobs as possible, the best wages possible, and a real industrial policy.

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