In France, Parliament voted yesterday to pass a controversial reform of the country's retirement laws. Previously, French people could retire at 60 and begin receiving full pensions, or monthly stipends from the government, at age 65. Now, however, Parliament has ruled that the French cannot retire until 60 and won't begin receiving full pensions until age 67. In the U.S., the typical retirement age is 65.
The proposed retirement change caused massive strikes and protests in France over the past several weeks. Garbage workers left trash piled up in the southern port city of Marseilles, protesters blocked traffic in Paris and students skipped school to take to the streets. Now that the new law has passed, some officials expect the strikes could continue and even get worse.
Compared to other European countries, France lets its workers retire the earliest. Some French people insist this reform was needed to help their country's challenging economic situation, while others want to preserve their right to retire at age 60.
"The feeling remains that this reform is unfair and has been imposed on the French people. There is a great frustration." - French man
"If you compare France to other European countries, we are the country that let people retire earlier. This reform was really needed." - Jerome Dumont, France
"It is an important day for the vote of the law for the pension reform. It is an important day for all French people, for those who retired and for those who will retire in the future, whose pension wasn't guaranteed before." - Eric Woerth, French labor minister
1. What is retirement?
2. What is a pension?
3. Where is France?
1. What do strikes and protests achieve? Do you think the recently passed retirement law will change if French people continue to protest? Why or why not?
2. Why do you think there are fewer general strikes and protests here than in France? How do people express discontent with legislation in the U.S.? How would you choose to express yourself if you were unhappy with a law?
3. At what age do you think people should be allowed to retire? Why?
French Protest Against Pension Reform: