Friday, October 19, 2007

Something's Happening There

And what it is, is clear: A Reaganesque leader can inspire even the French:

French commuters faced a second day of disruption on the rail network Friday, as unions discussed more strikes against government plans to reform pension privileges enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of public sector workers.

....The government has said it will not be budged from plans to overhaul the country's so-called "special" pension systems, which are enjoyed by 1.6 million rail, energy and other workers.

Invoking social equity, Sarkozy has begun moves to lengthen contribution periods for these workers from 37.5 years to 40, closer in line with other public and private sector employees. Currently some railway staff can retire on a full pension at the age of 50.

Labour Minister Xavier Bertrand invited unions to talks next week, and said concessions could be possible on the "level of pensions payments." But he insisted the governemnt would not give way on the contribution period.

"If we want to guarantee our pensions, we have to work longer," he said.

An opinion poll in the centre-right newspaper Le Figaro found that a large majority of the public does not want the government to give way.

Sixty-seven percent said the government should not "yield to the union's demands".

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