Pensions: employers divided between desire for reform and concern


Posted Sep 29, 2022, 7:23 AM

” That [le Medef] stop paying lip service to pension reform and support it with enthusiasm, with determination. It’s 8 to 9 billion euros in savings at the end of the five-year term! “, Got carried away Tuesday morning the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire while the French Association of Private Enterprises (Afep) pointed to a position deemed too cautious of the movement led by Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux.

Emmanuel Macron could not have been surprised by the unanimous rejection by the unions of his plan to vote to raise the retirement age by an amendment to the 2023 Social Security budget (PLFSS). The tone of the CFDT congress, which joined its voice to the other confederations, announced the color. But the executive did not expect to meet such feverish employers on this scenario of an ultra-rapid reform.

For entry into force on July 1, 2023

On the substance, there is a clear agreement on the side of business representatives on the need for reform and on the principle of entry into force on 1er July 2023. But there is not necessarily an agreement on the acceleration of the legislative timetable, which is a “political choice”, the employers’ organizations like to point out. “It is not up to employers to procrastinate and say that it is urgent to wait”, affirmed François Asselin, the president of the CPME, in mid-September, who judges that the file should have been reopened as soon as the the Covid crisis.

But be careful not to confuse speed with precipitation, warned a few days later the craftsmen and the liberal professions of the U2P. “There is no question of going through an amendment on a social subject which concerns employees but not only”, explained in substance their representative, Dominique Métayer, to the Minister of Labor, Olivier Dussopt, on September 19. “That’s not the right thing to do on 1er September, when we have plenty of other problems”, had advanced three weeks before the president of Medef, Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux, his organization considering priority the reform of unemployment insurance, now well underway.

Concerns that encourage procrastination

Worries about the economic and social situation are prompting some employers to stall. “We are coming out of the Covid crisis, we have a war in Europe, problems with materials, in terms of recruitment, crazy inflation and an energy crisis, our companies have a lot of issues to manage, not to mention those who are on the verge of bankruptcy,” explains an employer official.

“Certainly, we had been predicted the big night [social] at the start of the school year and for the moment, nothing has happened, but there is no need to take the risk of putting the country upside down, ”he summarizes. This fear about the social climate is fueled by the fact that in the event of an amendment raising the retirement age, casus belli for the CFDT, the central has threatened to mobilize with the other unions. And this while opinion polls show the sensitivity of the subject in a weakened opinion.

Another reason explains the employers’ caution: the concern to be able to discuss the measures that will accompany the reform: employment of seniors, early departures, hardship. “The question of a pension reform does not arise, it must be done. Its timetable and its methods must be discussed”, thus affirmed a few days ago the president of the Federation of Metallurgy (UIMM), Eric Trappier, in an interview with “Figaro” where he added that “the government must find a acceptance among employees, retirees, companies, current and future generations”.

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