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Ex-PM Juppe backs French pension reform

FRANCE – Former prime minister Alain Juppe has praised the French government’s handling of the pension reform.

Speaking at an interview yesterday, Juppe – the head of the Union pour un Mouvement Populaire - said it was the “right time” for reform, and that the government’s methods were “excellent.” The proposals have not been welcomed by the French union movement.

Labour minister Francois Fillon revealed his plans for pension reform on the France 2 television channel last week.

Increases in the length of contribution are said to be at the heart of the reforms. Public sector workers will see their contribution duration increase to 40 years after 2008 to bring it in line with that of the private sector. Both sectors will then see their contribution period rise to 41 year in 2012, increasing to 41.75 by 2020.

To encourage citizens to work beyond 60 years of age, Fillon is also proposing a ‘three percent bonus’ per year for the five years up to the age of 65.

Although the UMP may be backing the proposals, six of France’s largest unions are strongly against an increase in contribution periods. They disagree that those working now are having to pay for the retired, while facing a longer working life themselves, arguing that it is only a short-term solution that is punishing younger workers.

The CGT, CFDT, FO, CFTC, Unsa and FSU have all signed an agreement to make May 13 a day of action, strikes and protests.

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