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Pensions are a complicated subject. While some inaccurate or incomplete information is circulating, we propose to take stock of some of it.

Many colleagues will be on strike on 5 December. And they will have many reasons to do so. At Sgen-CFDT, we are more sharedFor us, however, one thing is certain: we must mobilising for a better pension system. But with the right information and the right objectives. So let's take a look at some of the things that are going around.


Where our pension system is successful is in the fight against poverty. The poverty rate of the over-65s in France is the lowest in Western Europe.

However, this does not make our system socially fair. The current method of calculation strongly penalises women, multiple pensioners and generally those who do not benefit from significant increases during their career. Here are the details of why.

- For the multi-pensionersThe method of calculation involves taking the best years (or months) in each scheme rather than just the best years. If we add to this, in National Education, the very low level of consideration given to previous service when reclassifying, we end up with a very heavy loss. Poly-pensioners represent 30% of the National Education staff and this proportion is constantly increasing.

GLASS CEILING- On the womenInequalities are more insidious. But they lead to catastrophic results: 37% difference between the average pension of women and men. A gap that is much larger than the wage inequalities during working life. Why? Because by focusing on the best years of a career, the current system actually focuses on the parts of a career where the gaps are greatest between men (who receive more promotions) and women. In retirement, the glass ceiling plays a double role.

- For the same reasons, the system favours those who have careers with high increases over those with flat careers. Yet these careers are more likely to involve precarious workers or those earning close to the minimum wage. This is the case in National Education for category C staff whose careers progress much less than those of category A staff. The current system therefore does more than reproduce salary inequalities throughout a career. It endorses them at the point in the career when they are most important.

The special regimes allow for the recognition of the specificities of certain professions. But they leave out many others. While the arduousness of the work of the Parisian metro driver is partly recognised through this scheme, the work of his colleagues in Lyon or Marseille is not recognised at all. Similarly, at the SNCF the inequalities in life expectancy are, in the end, just as great, if not greater, between the various categories of employees in the company than between railway workers and other professions


This is the thesis defended in particular by this comic book which is circulating a lot on social networks. To put it simply: the points system, by counting all parts of the career, would be harmful to women whose careers are often more chaotic.

By analysing the Delevoye report -The only official source at this stage on what this reform would be, while the bill has not yet been published, things look different. On the contrary, the report boasts that the new system would reduce gender inequalities, as can be seen in the table below.

Of course, one may say that the report is not necessarily very honest. But in that case, why take it as gospel when it announces the apocalypse and consider it to be nonsense when it announces improvements?

If we dig a little deeper, we realise that the comic strip presented omits a significant number of elements that could reduce gender inequalities:

- an increase granted from 1er child (compared to 3 today)

- the possibility for women to benefit from all the family rights of the couple when their career has been more affected by child-related choices

- pension rights for periods of reduced activity or career breaks due to children (contrary to what the comic book claims)

In any case, we will have to wait for the bill to really judge the impact of the reform on gender inequalities and thus be able to take a position.

But this example has the merit of illustrating an essential element: the question is not so much "points or no points" but which system overall. In both systems it is possible to create unfair situations. Or to repair them by emphasising solidarity.


Numerous simulations show a significant drop in teachers' pensions if the Delevoye report were applied as it stands. Taking into account the whole of a teacher's career would not be compensated for by bonuses, which are low in the National Education system.

However, one must be careful with the simulations. In order to compare the two systems, they consider the situation of someone who would start his or her career in the new system in 2025. Retirement would then take place in... 2067. In other words, a lot can happen between now and then. Moreover, these simulations often compare future careers with current full careers, carried out solely in the National Education system. These, as we saw earlier, are becoming increasingly rare.

This being said, it is clear that the application of the Delevoye report as it stands would lead to a significant drop in the pensions of National Education staff. For Sgen-CFDT, this is not acceptable. Discussions to obtain compensation are already underway, at the initiative of the government. The Minister has committed himself to ensuring that the pensions of National Education staff are equivalent to those of other civil service bodies of equivalent category. In other words: around 2500-2600 euros for a certified teacher or a school teacher who has completed a full career. WAGE FREEZEFor us, these discussions are essential: they must enable us to earn more, not in 2067, but tomorrow. Our position can be summarised as follows: earn more today to earn as much as before tomorrow, in retirement. Finally, we believe that this upgrading should not be conditional on additional tasks for teachers, as is sometimes suggested.

Will we win our case? How much? When will we win? How? It is impossible to know at this stage as discussions have barely begun. We will know more in January-February.

In the meantime, here is a (non-exhaustive) list of all the unknowns that the anxiety-inducing simulators cannot address:

- the amount of the point and its evolution ;

- the conditions for the transition from the old to the new regime;

- the compensation that will (or will not) accompany the reform;

- the many political changes until 2067;

- global warming, melting ice and so on (retirement under water?).

An essential point of the reform is thus the question of the governance of the future system. Who will be in charge of the regular choices to be made in the framework of this new system? For us, it is essential that the organisations representing employees are strongly involved in this governance.


The Delevoye report provides for the introduction of a "golden rule", which the CFDT is not in favour of, which would limit expenditure on the pension system to a certain share of GDP (probably around 14%). For some, this is a guarantee of a drop in pensions as a result of the increase in the retired population. A constant share for a larger population does suggest a decline.

The reality is more complex and more nuanced. While we have indeed seen an increase in the number of people over 65 over the past twenty years, a double consequence of the rise in life expectancy and the retirement of the baby-boom generations, projections for the post-2035 period are more moderate. Moreover, despite this increase, the share of pension expenditure in GDP has stopped rising in recent years after a constant increase from 2000 to 2013. It has to be said that GDP is also increasing steadily.

More generally, what this reasoning forgets is that pensions in France, both in the current system and in the one proposed by the Delevoye report, are a pay-as-you-go system. This means that pension money does not fall from the sky: it is the contributions of working people that pay for the pensions of retirees, who have previously contributed. This is the very essence of intergenerational solidarity, a principle and an insurance policy that the French are very attached to.

But this also means that increasing the overall amount of pensions means either an increase in employees' contributions or an increase in the duration of contributions. These two solutions do not seem desirable to us. It is clear that there is an overall balance to be respected between employees and pensioners. And that the question is not so much the size of the pension cake. Rather, it is a question of the distribution of all the wealth produced between working people and pensioners. And of the contribution of individuals to this solidarity according to their income levels. A more global way of thinking about the subject. And to remember that talking about pensions is also and above all talking about work.

We hope that this reading will have enabled you to glean some information. If you spot any errors (despite all our precautions), or if you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to write to us at

What we are mobilising for is social justice reform. We do not despair of obtaining it. We look forward to seeing you at the beginning of 2020 to study the bill in depth and to try by all means to improve it. On pensions, perhaps even more than elsewhere, the devil is in the detail.