Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Economist on the Demonstrations Against Retirement Benefits Reform in France

Here's an interesting segment from a well-written short article that appeared in the The Economist on the demonstrations against the much needed retirement benefits reform proposed by the French administration (italics are mine):

... First, although the numbers on the streets are high, it is the strikes, not the demos, that have the power to disrupt. Thanks in part to a law designed to ensure minimum service in schools and on public transport during strikes, and to the fact that workers are no longer paid when they walk out, strikes do not paralyse the country in quite the way they once did. (French commuters have also learned to take one of their numerous days off during strikes, reducing the pressure on trains.)

At the same time, public opinion has shifted. This is not immediately clear from polls. Some 70% of respondents to one said that they backed the strikes, more than the 54%-62% in favour in late 1995. Yet this may be precisely because strikes are less intolerable now for those who do try to get to work. And for all the drama on the street, in the same poll 53% said that the raising of the retirement age was "acceptable" and 70% that it was "responsible vis-à-vis future generations". A silent majority seems to know that demography and economics make pension reform inevitable.

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