French support union strike vs. Sarkozy’s pension plan

PARIS (l’Humanité) — A majority of French people (70%) approve of the Sept. 7 trade union day of mobilization against the bill on retirement, according to an IFOP opinion poll done for Dimanche Ouest-France newspaper.

The slim majority that considers it “acceptable” to raise the legal retirement age from 60 to 62, the key measure in the reform, declined further in September (53% as against 58% in June).

Questioned on the progressive raising of the legal retirement age to 62 by 2018 desired by the government, 53% said it was “totally acceptable” or “acceptable enough,” compared with 47% who described it as “totally unacceptable” or “rather unacceptable.”

The proportion of those who consider it “totally unacceptable” has risen to 30%, a 7-percent gain since last June. On the other hand, the proportion saying it is “totally acceptable” has fallen by 7 percent, to 21%

The opinion poll indicates there are big differences on the bill to raise the retirement age depending on the age of the person questioned. A majority of those aged 25-34 (52% say it is unacceptable), and those aged 35-49 (53%) oppose the bill.

In addition, a very large majority of French people (70%) approve of the September 7 strikes and demonstrations against the retirement reform, an approval that is highest among those aged 18-24 (87%), white-collar workers (82%) and blue-collar workers (79%).

When the same question was asked regarding the strikes and demonstrations against the retirement reform in May, 2008, 43% of the French people thought the day of action was justified, the opinion poll points out.

This is a “contradictory and evenly split picture: The French think the government project is necessary and courageous, but unfair, and a majority backs the movement that opposes it,” Jérôme Fourquet of IFOP commented.

While a very high proportion of those questioned agree that the government “is not very open to dialogue” (69%), “rather unfair in its choices” (67%) and “not attentive enough to questions linked to the difficulty of certain jobs” (62%), a smaller majority recognizes that it is “courageous in its choices (53%) and “determined to maintain the French contributory pension scheme” (57%).

According to 70% of those polled, the government is “acting responsibly with respect to coming generations.”

Finally, 76% of workers polled find that the government is “rather inattentive to questions involving the hardship involved in certain types of work.”

This poll was taken by the IFOP by telephone on 2-3 September, with a sampling of 957 persons, representative of the French population aged 18 or over, using a method of quotas.

Photo: Commuters are seen in a crowded train of the Paris subway, Sept. 7.  French unions launched a major strike Tuesday over unpopular conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plans to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62, with walkouts. (Thibault Camus/AP) 




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