Agreement on retirement at 55 for lorry drivers

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An agreement, signed on 11 April 1997, will allow French lorry drivers to retire at 55.

The lorry drivers' dispute of November 1996 was ended by an agreement signed by employers' organisations, unions and the state, which satisfied the demand from the sector's workforce for early retirement at 55. Negotiations were supposed to follow, in which details of the way in which the agreement would operate would be worked out. These talks, in a tense climate, lasted almost four months.

The passenger transport sector (which resisted the claim for retirement at 55 during February's public transport strike - FR9702106F) decided to opt out of the agreement. Therefore, employers' suggestions limited its field of application to employees in the freight transport sector with 25 years of service in a company within that sector. This excluded "drivers who have been unemployed, but also drivers not connected to this sector, like those working for security firms, for example". On 7 April, the unions representing the transport sector workforce, the CFDT (Confédération française démocratique du travail), CFTC (Confédération française des travailleurs chrétiens), CGT (Confédération générale du travail), CGT-FO, (Confédération générale du travail-Force ouvrière), and FNCR (Fédération nationale des chauffeurs routiers) decided not to sign the document alongside the state and employers. After various meetings and discussions, the employers' organisation made some overtures to the unions, which resulted in the CFDT (the largest union in the sector), the CFTC and the FNCR signing up. The agreement allows freight lorry drivers with 25 years' service to benefit from pre-retirement leave. This measure should concern 2,250 drivers in 1997, and 9,200 in 2007. The funding of this early retirement will be ensured by employers and employees until the age of 57½, then with 80% government subsidies until the age of 60.

Some drivers, such as those working for security firms, will be able to benefit from this agreement. A joint management-union committee was established to examine individual cases of people who, at 55, would find themselves in a difficult situation regarding their jobs.

For the CFDT this represents a significant advance, but unions like the CGT and the CGT-FO find it insufficient. These three organisations are calling separately for a day of action on 5 May, the CFDT wanting to emphasise only the situation facing the passenger transport drivers, which should be negotiated before 1 July, whilst the other two are seeking to challenge the entire agreement.

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