Juppe defiant on welfare reforms
France in revolt: Government holds to tough stance but says change will be made by consensus
Wednesday 06 December 1995
In a television broadcast last night, his first public statement since the protests began, Mr Juppe said: "I will tell you straight: I will not withdraw the welfare reforms, because that would be a mistake." Looking relaxed but determined, he expressed sympathy with both commuters and strikers, the first for the transport difficulties they have faced in recent days, the second for "the hard decision" they had taken to go on strike and sacrifice their pay. He stressed that every step of the reforms would be taken "by consensus".
At the end of his 15-minute broadcast, however, he had given not an inch, either on the planned reforms to the welfare system, or on the special commission set up to consider public sector pension arrangements. The trade unions and public sector workers have called for the withdrawal of both. Earlier, in the National Assembly, he accused the opposition of "lying" about government intentions.
In his three appearances yesterday, including a preparatory meeting with MPs from the Gaullist-led coalition, Mr Juppe did clarify the distinction between structural reforms of the welfare system and the special pension rights of different branches of the public sector, which include early retirement deals for train drivers and miners. These, he said, would be considered separately and with a completely open mind. Public- sector workers feared their rights would be abolished by a government commission set up to consider how public and private sector pension arrangements could be made fairer.
Mr Juppe also appeared to offer another olive branch, saying the government would postpone a major element of a tax reform planned for 1996.
It is unclear whether this combination of determination, "consensus" and economic home truths will succeed in convincing the non-striking majority in France and help to defuse the popular protests, which over the past week have become highly personalised. Mr Juppe's resignation was demanded yesterday by 50,000 people in Paris and crowds of almost equal size in several dozen other French cities.
The demonstrations were accompanied by minor incidents: in Narbonne and Pontoise cars drove into the marches, injuring two demonstrators. And there were scuffles in Paris, Nancy and Montpellier, when some demonstrators smashed shop windows and overturned cars.
Meanwhile there was no end in sight to the nationwide transport strike which has brought public transport to a standstill across much of the country. Other strikes continued to gather support; most state schools were closed, and the southern city of Arles became the first place to experience power cuts. One source of consolation for the government - and the first sign in the past week that they might have a chance of victory - was the sharp diminution, by two-thirds, of the traffic jams on roads into Paris in the rush hours, although some of the drop would have been due to people simply staying at home.
elephant appealPrince William signs up for our charity appeal
elephant appealSo says man jailed for cutting off dead elephant's tusks
booksWe examine the best titles for teens
scienceResearchers teach border collie to understand sentences using more than 1,000 words
booksA Christmas story in six parts
travelWill high-value tourism help the workshops of this Renaissance city?
Geoffrey Macnab does not like the comedian's big screen debut
Top PR exec Justine Sacco under fire for sending racist tweet before flying to Africa
French pub fined €9,000 after customers returned empties to bar - because it's 'undeclared labour'
Ten best places to live in the UK: Hart in Hampshire takes top spot
'Untrue statements' anger over work to make H5N1 bird-flu virus MORE dangerous to humans
Paul Walker's daughter Meadow attends Justin Bieber Believe premiere
- 1 Top PR exec Justine Sacco under fire for sending racist tweet before flying to Africa
- 2 French pub fined €9,000 after customers returned empties to bar - because it's 'undeclared labour'
- 3 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 The publisher who played with fire: the battle for control of Larsson's £30m legacy
- 5 Police seize possessions of rough sleepers in crackdown on homelessness
- < Previous
- Next >
£40000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits : Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer (WPF...
£45000 - £65000 per annum + London: Harrington Starr: Senior Automation QA Eng...
Negotiable: Capita Education Resourcing Permanent Team: Year 6 Teacher - Gilli...
Negotiable: Capita Education Resourcing Permanent Team: Teacher of English - S...