- Title: Macron's reform drive faces high-risk pension overhaul
- Date: 2nd September 2019
- Summary: PARIS, FRANCE (FILE - FEBRUARY 23, 2019) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF "YELLOW VEST" PROTEST WITH EIFFEL TOWER IN BACKGROUND PARIS, FRANCE (FILE - OCTOBER 12, 2010) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF MASS PROTESTS AGAINST PENSION REFORM UNDER FORMER FRENCH PRESIDENT NICOLAS SARKOZY
- Embargoed: 16th September 2019 17:28
- Keywords: retired France Macron reform pensions CFDT FO CGT
- Location: PARIS, FRANCE
- City: PARIS, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Reuters ID: LVA004AUYU4HZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:President Emmanuel Macron embarks this week on the next leg of his reform drive by launching talks with unions on an overhaul of France's convoluted pension system to plug a chronic deficit.
The talks on Thursday and Friday with uneasy union leaders and Prime Minister Philippe Edouard kick off wide-ranging consultations with various professions like teachers and nurses on what could be a defining reform of Macron's presidency.
In France private pensions schemes are rare, which means that nearly everyone pays into a public system, albeit through 42 different contribution and benefit schemes that Macron wants to replace with a single points-based scheme.
Though numerous pitfalls lie ahead, the age at which a person can start drawing a full pension is shaping up to be the main point of contention.
A special government adviser on pension reform proposed in July that the age to receive a full pension should be put back to 64, although they could retire from 62 albeit with lower pension benefits.
After unions rejected the suggestion over the summer, Macron said last week he preferred to focus on the duration of a person's career to receive pension benefits, rather than the age they retire.
Macron's move was cautiously welcomed by France's biggest union, the centrist CFDT, whose support for the reform would give the government a big boost.
Other unions like the left-wing CGT - which has already promised demonstrations against the reform and threatened strikes - remain up in arms.
An Ifop poll for weekend newspaper JDD found that two-thirds of those surveyed did not have confidence in Macron's government to overhaul the pension system.
That's true of Nani Abitbol, 59, who works in a bank. "We have to stop thinking that people have to work longer", he told Reuters.
Pension reforms by conservative former presidents Nicolas Sarkozy in 2010 and Jacques Chirac in 1995 ignited street protests and failed to plug repeated deficits, which Macron's government wants to wipe out by 2025.
(Production: Emilie Delwarde, Clotaire Achi, Johnny Cotton)
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