FRANCE – The employees of Electricite de France (EdF) and Gaz de France (GdF) have rejected proposals to bring their pensions in line with other state workers, following all-day discussions yesterday.

Plans to increase contributions from the current 7.85% of wages to 12%, without guarantee of better pensions, were rejected by 53.4% of employees, said trade union sources after ballots for 280,000 current and retired energy workers were held yesterday.

Partial privatisation of the two utilities following pressure from the European Commission has resulted in the current generous pension plans at EdF and GdF being put under scrutiny. A newly created fund with contributions in line with those paid by employees in the standard state-sponsored system is being proposed.

EdF faces 60-70 billion euros in pension liabilities and GdF faces 10-15 billion euros, which would be relieved if the energy sector pensions moved to the state system.

Prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin today reasserted his plan to push on with reforms in the spring despite the outcome of the ballot. The restructuring of the energy sector pension system has been widely regarded as the first step in the plan to reform France’s over-burdened state pension system.