© Reuters. A employee climbs out of a sewer pipe after intervention work in Paris’ sewage system, France, January 11, 2023. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
By Caroline Pailliez and Yiming Woo
PARIS (Reuters) – Guillaume Konrad’s job is to hold out and supervise emergency cleansing and restore work on Paris’ sprawling sewage system. He loves it. Nevertheless it’s robust and takes its toll. And the 38-year previous will not be OK with the federal government’s new plan to make him work longer.
As a result of the work is so taxing – usually crouching in darkish, historic, slender, rat-infested tunnels – underneath present guidelines Konrad’s group now retire at 52, if they’d sufficient years on the job. However as a result of as a supervisor he doesn’t go down as usually as his group his retirement age, like for many French, is 62. Being advised now he must work two extra years, based on pension reform plans introduced on Tuesday, merely appears an excessive amount of.
“It is a harmful job in a hostile setting, the place you threat falling, contamination, getting injured, you are involved with viruses, micro organism, poisonous merchandise. All that carries a threat for our well being,” he mentioned.
Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne mentioned on Tuesday that the retirement age shall be progressively elevated to 64, and ranging from 2027 one might want to have labored 43 years to get a full pension.
The federal government says that is essential to steadiness the accounts.
Commerce unions reject the argument and vow a troublesome battle on the streets to dam the reform, which nonetheless wants parliament’s approval.
Konrad shall be amongst those that take to the streets in a nationwide day of strikes on Jan.19.
So will 53-year-old Stephane Rouanoux, who has labored in Paris’ 24/7 emergency sewage restore group for 25 years, most of that and not using a protecting masks, which is required now.
“Including two years could be very laborious to take, with all we undergo,” mentioned Rouanoux, a military veteran who joined Paris sewage cleaner group when he returned to civilian life and nonetheless must placed on extra years to retire.
“We regularly must crouch … to scrub out blockages of fecal matter and grease,” he mentioned.
Rouanoux mentioned the reform plans made him and his colleagues indignant and they might march in opposition to it.
The important thing query, for the federal government and for unions, shall be what number of be part of them.
One of many quirks of the French pension system, and one which Macron’s reform is not going to change, is that relying on who they work for and by which metropolis, some sewer staff in France profit from early retirement whereas others don’t.
So whereas Rouanoux can retire early, Konrad can not, though he nonetheless goes down within the stitching system three to 4 occasions per week. Each discover it absurd.