17 Nov 2008

French Polynesia's civil servants head to Paris ahead of senate sitting

11:36 am on 17 November 2008

A delegation of French Polynesia's striking public servants has flown to Paris ahead of a French Senate sitting expected to finalise the pension reforms at the centre of their strike.

This comes as their action is set to continue, affecting much of French Polynesia's public life, including schools and the customs office, which no longer clears merchandise entering and leaving the territory.

The senate vote to reduce the top-ups of future retirees in France's overseas possessions is expected on Wednesday, and on Thursday, the junior minister in charge of overseas territories, Yves Jego, is to receive overseas delegates to explain the changes.

The top-ups are set to be capped at 18,000 euros a year in addition to the French pension.

In Tahiti, the street outside the French high commission and other public insitutions has been blocked over the weekend by the public servants who want the reforms to be put off by at least a year.

The French government has indicated that despite the protests, it is determined to do away with the pension top-ups put in place in the 1950s to reward those working and retiring in the colonies.

There is also opposition to the reform in New Caledonia where public servants took to the streets last Friday.