FRANCE – Prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin has sent a letter to every French household explaining his pension reform proposals – a response to criticism about his lack of communication on the issue.

The publicity campaign, estimated at having cost around three million euros, is the first France has seen regarding a legislative bill. It follows public criticism that Raffarin has been unclear and uncommunicative about the reform.

The letter, sent to around 26 million homes, attempts to answer in an accompanying four-page leaflet the questions: “Why?”, “How?” and “For whom?” According to Raffarin it aims to “tell the truth” about the reform.

Critics of the reforms are outraged, dubbing it “a campaign of disinformation”. But labour and social affairs minister Francois Fillon has defended the government. “The prime minister has the right to write to the French people and inform them about fundamental reforms which will affect their lives,” he reportedly said today at the Assembly question time.

As well as criticism about Raffarin’s lack of transparency about the proposals, there has been continued pressure from the unions to stop the reforms going ahead. National strikes have disabled the country’s transport and education systems, and although momentum has slowed, regional strikes are still continuing sporadically.

The reforms are currently being discussed by the General Assembly – and, it was announced today, the discussion period has been extended to June 25.