From the title, you may think the purpose of the current strike is to keep the retirement age at 62. No, it is for the retirement at the age of 60.
French unions challenged unpopular President Nicolas Sarkozy with a major nationwide strike over plans to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62, shutting down trains, planes, buses, subways, post offices and schools. However, President Nicolas Sarkozy insists he is determined to implement the unpopular pension reforms.
Opinion polls show two-thirds of voters think Mr Sarkozy's plans to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 and make people work longer for a pension are unfair. Prime Minister Francois Fillon reminded the French that it could be worse: In nearly all European countries, the current debate is over raising the retirement age to 67 or 68, he said. Germany has decided to bump the retirement age from 65 to 67, for example, and the U.S. Social Security system is gradually raising the retirement age to 67. Strikers hope to match a similar protest on June 24, when between 800,000 and two million marched, and initial reports from provincial town and cities ahead of the main Paris march suggested they were on course to do so. By midday 450,000 people had already taken part in rallies around France, according to the interior ministry, around about the same total given by officials at the same point in June.
Estimates of strikers in the public sector showed higher numbers taking part with, for example, at least 28 per cent of secondary school teachers off compared to 10 per cent in June, according to government figures. Schools, the national rail network, some public services and domestic air services were severely disrupted, and passengers complained of long delays on commuter train services and metros into Paris.
The French employment. The French GDP per capita is similar the GDP per capita of other comparable European countries such as Germany and the United Kingdom. GDP per capita is determined by (i) productivity per hour worked, which in France is the highest of the G8 countries in 2005, according to the OECD, (ii) the number of hours worked, which is one the lowest of developed countries, and (iii) the employment rate. France has one of the lowest 15–64 years employment rates of the OECD countries: in 2004, only 69% of the French population aged 15–64 years were in employment, compared to 80% in Japan, 79% in the UK, 77% in the US, and 71% in Germany.
This gap is due to the very low employment rates at both age extremes: the employment rate of people aged 55–64 was 38.3% in 2007, compared to 46.6% in the EU15; for the 15–24 years old, the employment rate was 31.5% in 2007, compared to 37.2% in EU25. These low employment rates are explained by the high minimum wages which prevent low productivity workers – such as young people – from easily entering the labor market, ineffective university curricula that fail to prepare students adequately for the labor market, and, concerning the older workers, restrictive legislation on work and incentives for premature retirement.
The unemployment rate decreased from 9% in 2006 to 7% in 2008 but remains one of the highest in Europe. In June 2009, the unemployment rate for France was 9.4%. Shorter working hours and the reluctance to reform the labor market are mentioned as weak spots of the French economy in the view of the right, when the left mentions the lack of government policies fostering social justice. Liberal economists have stressed repeatedly over the years that the main issue of the French economy is an issue of structural reforms, in order to increase the size of the working population in the overall population, reduce the taxes' level and the administrative burden.
Keynesian economists have different answers to the unemployment issue, and their theories led to the 35-hour workweek law in the early 2000s, which turned out to be a failure in reducing unemployment. Afterwards, between 2004 and 2008, the Government made some supply-oriented reforms to combat unemployment but met with fierce resistance, especially with the contrat nouvelle embauche and the contrat première embauche which both were eventually repealed. The current Government is experiencing the Revenu de solidarité active.