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Demonstration against pension reform in Paris on 24 ja

Pension reform: the test of strength is on

By Michel Ghazal

Whether it's the CGT, Sud or Unsa at the SNCF or the 3 representative unions at the RATP (UNSA, CGT and CGC), they are all up in arms to get the government to back down on its pension reform plan. Even though everyone agrees on the diagnosis (which is already very old) and on the urgency of the measures to be taken, they are all moving to ensure that nothing changes, at least as far as they are concerned.

Let's face it, the government is subject to a double constraint He has been summoned to save the pension system and make it fairer (this was one of the commitments made during the presidential campaign) and, at the same time, nothing must change.

To solve this intractable equation, one approach seems to be emerging: introduce the " grandfather ". (I've never heard this term before, have you?).


What are we talking about?

In order to defuse the conflict promising dark hours for public transport customers, and thus avoid bringing the country to a standstill again as was the case with the "yellow waistcoats" crisis, the government would be tempted to apply the new system only to new entrants. In other words, let the old ones benefit from the existing system (even if it means continuing to increase deficits) and wait until 2040 to start reaping the effects of the planned reform. 

Is this not one of the 10 strategies for manipulating the masses through the media described by the linguist Noam Chomsky? the deferral strategy ?


The strategy in figures

The "grandfather" clause consists of getting the target to agree to an unpopular decision that is presented as painful but necessary (here SNCF and RATP staff) in the present for application in the future"..

Since the effort is not made immediately and the sacrifice will be made in the future by others and not by oneself, it becomes more easily acceptable. This gives the employees of these companies time to get used to the planned change and accept it when the time comes. But what about the interests of the rest of the public, who finance the deficits of these schemes through their taxes?


What's the difference between creativity in negotiation and breaking deadlocks?

Once again, I admit that this is a headache for the government. But I would remind you that in negotiations, we help our clients to break the deadlock by encouraging them to invent new options that go beyond the framework. One way of doing this, for example, is to limit the scope of a given measure or to proportion its impact according to the category concerned. 

One of my clients wanted to introduce merit-based pay into its pay system, which was based solely on seniority. Faced with the refusal of the trade unions, negotiations were held which brought out the real interests of both parties. The management wanted attractive remuneration to retain its managers. For the unions, not seeing any objective criteria on which they could be assessed, the concern was to avoid employees having to 'suck up' to be rewarded. An agreement was reached accepting that the percentage of merit-based pay in relation to seniority should be 80% for managers, 50% for supervisors and only 20% for employees. In addition, the new system was subject to a 6-month test period before its final implementation. As we can see, the postponement made it possible to break the deadlock, but it is mutually acceptable and not to the detriment of the interests of any of the parties involved.


In conclusion: Manipulation or resignation

Whether the 'grandfather' clause to defuse the crisis is manipulation, discernment or simple resignation, it really doesn't matter. On the other hand, may we see collective interests prevail over individual interests in this inevitable reform. 

See also

the European Negotiation Centre, quoted in Le Point.

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