Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin is asking working men and women to understand the crisis that is facing the country and to accept his proposed pension reforms. These include: forcing public sector workers to contribute to the state pension system for 40 years instead of 37.5; changing early retirement policies; loss of certain bonuses; use of tax incentives to attract workers to company-based savings programs. Public sector unions believe the reforms will, in effect, destroy the pension system. A national strike is scheduled for May 13 and unions vow to fight the reforms. France is among many European countries facing a pension crisis.
See Elaine Sciolino, The New York Times, May 8, 2003