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:
Weekend Edition
July 01, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
Hillary: Ordinarily Awful or Uncommonly Awful?
Rob Urie
Liberal Pragmatism and the End of Political Possibility
Pam Martens
Clinton Says Wall Street Banks Aren’t the Threat, But Her Platform Writers Think They are
Michael Hudson
The Silence of the Left: Brexit, Euro-Austerity and the T-TIP
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Marx on Financial Bubbles: Much Keener Insights Than Contemporary Economists
Evan Jones
Ancillary Lessons from Brexit
Jason Hirthler
Washington’s Not-So-Invisible Hand: It’s Not Economics, It’s Empire
Mike Whitney
Another Fed Fiasco: U.S. Bond Yields Fall to Record Lows
Aidan O'Brien
Brexit: the English and Welsh Enlightenment
Jeremy R. Hammond
How Turkey’s Reconciliation Deal with Israel Harms the Palestinians
Margaret Kimberley
Beneficial Chaos: the Good News About Brexit
Phyllis Bennis
From Paris to Istanbul, More ‘War on Terror’ Means More Terrorist Attacks
Dan Bacher
Ventura Oil Spill Highlights Big Oil Regulatory Capture
Ishmael Reed
OJ and Jeffrey Toobin: Black Bogeyman Auctioneer
Ron Jacobs
Let There Be Rock
Ajamu Baraka
Paris, Orlando and Turkey: Displacing the Narrative of Western Innocence
Pete Dolack
Brexit Will Only Count If Everybody Leaves the EU
Robert Fantina
The First Amendment, BDS and Third-Party Candidates
Julian Vigo
Xenophobia in the UK
David Rosen
Whatever Happened to Utopia?
Andre Vltchek
Brexit – Let the UK Screw Itself!
Jonathan Latham
107 Nobel Laureate Attack on Greenpeace Traced Back to Biotech PR Operators
Steve Horn
Fracked Gas LNG Exports Were Centerpiece In Promotion of Panama Canal Expansion, Documents Reveal
Robert Koehler
The Right to Bear Courage
Colin Todhunter
Pro-GMO Spin Masquerading as Science Courtesy of “Shameful White Men of Privilege”
Eoin Higgins
Running on Empty: Sanders’s Influence on the Democratic Party Platform
Binoy Kampmark
Who is Special Now? The Mythology Behind the US-British Relationship
Mark B. Baldwin
Russia to the Grexit?
Andrew Wimmer
Killer Grief
Manuel E. Yepe
Sanders, Socialism and the New Times
Franklin Lamb
ISIS is Gone, But Its Barbarity Still Haunts Palmyra
Mark Weisbrot
A Policy of Non-Intervention in Venezuela Would be a Welcome Change
Matthew Stevenson
Larry Cameron Explains Brexit
Cesar Chelala
How Tobacco Became the Opium War of the 21st Century
Joseph Natoli
How We Reached the Point Where We Can’t Hear Each Other
Andrew Stewart
Skip “Hamilton” and Read Gore Vidal’s “Burr”
George Wuerthner
Ranching and the Future of the Sage Grouse
Thomas Knapp
Yes, a GOP Delegate Revolt is Possible
Gilbert Mercier
Democracy Is Dead
Missy Comley Beattie
A Big F#*K You to Voters
Charles R. Larson
Mychal Denzel Smith’s “Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: a Young Black Man’s Education”
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Four Morning Ducks
David Yearsley
Where the Sidewalk Ends: Walking the Bad Streets of Houston’s Super-Elites
Christopher Brauchli
Educating Kansas
Andy Piascik
The Hills of Connecticut: Where Theatre and Life Became One
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail