3 Nov 2008

France approves pension reforms despite opposition in French territories

6:08 am on 3 November 2008

The French assembly has approved a pension reform which has caused anger in its overseas territories and may yet lead to a general strike in French Polynesia next week.

Dating back to 1952, public servants have been entitled to pension

top-ups of up to 75 percent if they retired in the colonies, but Paris

says the system has been abused and considers it to be too costly.

For those retiring from next year, the top-up of the normal French

pension will be lowered to no more than 10,000 US dollars a year.

Those already receiving top-ups will see the maximum amount reduced over ten years to 23,000 US dollar a year.

The French government is adamant that the extra entitlements, which for some have been in excess of 60,000 US dollars, have to be reduced.

The reform plans led to large demonstrations in New Caledonia and in Tahiti as recently as last week and where an unlimited general strike has been called in the public sector from the middle of next week.

A French Polynesian member of the French assembly, Michel Buillard, has called for an impact study as the pension losses will affect commerce and employment.

He also says the overseas territories allow France to succeed in sport and that without them, France wouldn't have a nuclear deterrent.