Thursday, October 18, 2007

Never to old...

Today France is hit by strikes in the public transport sector and energy sector. The government plans to scrap the "special regime" pension system for half a million workers in state-controlled companies, mainly the SNCF (railroad) and EDF (electricity).

Only 6% of pensions fall under the special regime, which allows beneficiaries to retire after 37.5 years worked, compared with 40 years for other public and private sector employees. These special regime pensions were created after the second world war to make sure positions in the transport and energy services were filled in and by doing so helping the reconstruction effort after the war.

In 1995, Alain Juppé tried to change the special regime system: massive demonstrations took place. In 2003, Jean-Pierre Raffarin did have a go at it.... I will let you guess the result: demonstrations/strikes.

It is crazy to think that a small group of people, only 500 000 person are on these special regimes, can cause so much disturbance. I have a lot of adjective for them: hypocrites, self-centred, selfish, egoist... How can people be so blind to fact that we live longer and the country cannot provide for you like that???

It is nice to live abroad and to have a remote view of the on-going issue in France.

The normal age to retire in Iceland is set to 67 years old. If you want you can push a little bit longer and still work until 70 years old. But there is a problem in Iceland: there is too little unemployment! In Septembre, the unemployment rate was 0.8% with only 1336 people registered as unemployed. This is the lowest rate in 19 years. As a result, the city council of Reykjavík offers now the option of going back to work part-time for people over 70 years old. Here is an extract from Iceland Review:

10/05/2007 | 11:22
Reykjavík City Approves Hiring People Over 70

Reykjavík City Council accepted a proposal from Mayor Vilhjálmur Th. Vilhjálmsson at a meeting yesterday to hire people older than 70 for workplaces operated by the city, like kindergartens, which suffer from a severe lack of staff.

It is now permitted to hire people over 70 for positions requiring work between 33 and 50 percent of a normal working day for one year at a time, but only if the applicant can submit a competence certification, Morgunblaðið reports.

Employment will not result in lower payments from the Pension Fund of City Employees.

Vilhjálmsson said he had noticed considerable interest among senior citizens to reenter the employment market and that he was convinced many would take advantage of this opportunity.

“This is one of the issues senior citizens have been fighting for. We have discussed this with them and are following their request,” Vilhjálmsson said. “I am certain senior citizens will celebrate this decision because many of them are still fully capable of working.”

Sesselja Ásgeirsdóttir, who is 70 and used to work for the Consumers’ Association of Iceland, has been hired as project leader and will be responsible for providing senior citizens interested in this project with jobs where they are most needed.

Ásgeirsdóttir is pleased with the move, but said she finds it strange that people who retire at 67, which is the norm, have to wait for three years before they can reenter the employment market without their pensions being cut.

There is currently a severe lack of staff within caretaking positions in Reykjavík and almost 200 employees are needed for the city’s kindergartens.

Weather outside: mostly cloudy, 10°C
(changes from the -3°C yesterday!!!)


TOF said...

The most strange thing about thursday strike is that, half of the french newspaper did not put the event as an headline... because it was the same day Sarkozy officially announce his separation from his wife..., that's a good summary of french politics: strike and love affair :-P

Jujux said...

Not just the french newspapers...
In Iceland, the divorce of the presidential couple was reported before the strikes on the news. Same thing on the BBC World Service radio broadcast.