FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

French Austerity and the New Les Misérables

by TOM GILL

French employers have called for rigueur millions of pensioners. A five year plan of misère that will see pensions in the private sector cut in real terms.

Under the bosses’ austerity plan, from 1 April this year, pensions will rise by 1.5% less than inflation, and in the following years to 2017 they will rise by 1% below the rise in the cost of living. That is expected to save 4 billion euros a year for  the two pension funds Agirc and Arrco which are facing a 10 billion euro projected deficit in five years time. Unions have declared the proposals unacceptable, although (bar the CGT) they have been willing to accept year one of the plan if bosses share the burden by increasing company contributions to the schemes.

But employers’ association Medef rejects this. Indeed they want more sacrifices – a progressive increase in the retirement age, to the tune of a quarter a year, from 2017, a move that will save a further one billion euros.

Picking on ordinary pensioners like this isn’t necessary – French firms may claim poverty now but the country’s top 40 listed companies (CAC 40) in recent years had more than enough cash to ensure the pension schemes’ solvency. They chose instead to use their profits to pay out more than 100 billion euros in dividends, in the three years to 2011, however.

The plan is also very unfair. Around 13 million pensioners are on around 1,000  euros a month on average. And more than a million people over the age of 64 live in poverty. Contrast that with the bosses’ own retirement nest eggs. No sign of rigueur for them.

In addition to bonuses, stock options and free shares, half of the patrons of the France’s top 40 listed companies (CAC 40) will receive supplementary pensions, or retraites-chapeaux, netting them 545,000 euros annually each on average when they retire. Franck Riboud of Danone, Jean-Paul Agon of L’Oréal and Henri de Castries of Axa are to pocket more than a million euros each. And that’s in addition to the statutory pension…

Amid massive pressure on living standards and rising unemployment imposed on workers in a bid to prop up the banks, the patronat’s planned pensions heist shows there’s one rule for the 1% and another for the rest of us.

France’s socialist government has ditched promises of kick-starting growth in favour of Chancellor Merkel’s austere recipes for Europe and is now pushing for labour counter-reforms. But it has nevertheless been tougher than most western regimes with the super-rich. It has to be hoped that – as well as sticking to its pledge to resubmit a law to implement its ‘millionaires’ wealth tax that was thrown out at the end of last year on a technicality – President Hollande won’t let this particular bosses charter go through.

Tom Gill blogs at www.revolting-europe.com

 

Tom Gill edits Revolting Europe.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
Wayne Clark
A Reset Button for Political America
Chris Welzenbach
“The Death Ship:” An Allegory for Today’s World
Uri Avnery
Being There
Peter Lee
The Deep State and the Sex Tape: Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, and Thurgood Marshall
Patrick Hiller
Guns Against Grizzlies at Schools or Peace Education as Resistance?
Randy Shields
The Devil’s Real Estate Dictionary
Ron Jacobs
Singing the Body Electric Across Time
Ann Garrison
Fifty-five Years After Lumumba’s Assassination, Congolese See No Relief
Christopher Brauchli
Swing Low Alabama
Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones
La Realidad: the Realities of Anti-Mexicanism
Jon Hochschartner
The Five Least Animal-Friendly Senate Democrats
Pauline Murphy
Fighting Fascism: the Irish at the Battle of Cordoba
Susan Block
#GoBonobos in 2017: Happy Year of the Cock!
Louis Proyect
Is Our Future That of “Sense8” or “Mr. Robot”?
Charles R. Larson
Review: Robert Coover’s “Huck out West”
David Yearsley
Manchester-by-the-Sea and the Present Catastrophe
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail