January 15, 2020
Philippe's not-so-generous compromise offer
Édouard Philippe made a gesture of goodwill and took the rise in the full pension retirement age off the table, at least for now. This was welcomed by the CFDT union and celebrated as a breakthrough. But this may turn out to be just a temporary concession, writes France24. Philippe asked trade unions to come up with alternative proposals to reach financial balance by 2027 without diminishing pensions or increasing the cost of labour. If trade unions and employers cannot reach an agreement, the government will take the necessary measures to ensure the pension fund will be balanced by 2027, so Philippe.
Fixing an objective with a constrained set of options sets the trade unions up for failure. The pension reform talks could end up like the ones over the unemployment insurance reform in 2018. Back then trade unions and employers failed to reach the requested €3bn in savings so the government took charge of the unemployment scheme, a first since 1982, and changed the system’s rules by tightening eligibility requirements and payout conditions. If the script rolls out the same way this time, the government could take back control of the reform at the end of April and order a rise in retirement age, while pointing to a failed negotiation to deliver an alternative.
Critics warn that this proposal is even worse than the original one. It threatens to introduce the retirement age by government order, reduces the discussion time until April rather than September and prevents upper- and lower-house lawmakers from having their say.