General strike in French Polynesia against undermining of pensions


General strike in French Polynesia against undermining of pensions

Tom Peters

17 February 2018

Thousands of workers in Tahiti and other parts of French Polynesia joined what was originally called an “indefinite” general strike on February 15 against the government’s plan to raise the pension entitlement age from 60 to 62 by the year 2020 and increase employee contributions. The proposal also requires workers to contribute to social security for 38 years, up from the current 35, to receive a full pension.

The remote South Pacific French colony, with 67 inhabited islands and a population of 280,000, has been wracked by political crises and social unrest for more than a decade. There were four strikes last November and December, by staff from the Depeche de Tahiti newspaper, Air France workers, hospital workers, and kitchen workers who prepare school meals.

The general strike is the latest manifestation of widespread anger among workers over the austerity measures imposed by successive governments in Papeete and Paris, including repeated attacks on jobs, wages and conditions.

Reports indicate that telecommunications, electricity and postal workers, some hospital and school employees, among others, joined the strike, which was called by five trade unions: O oe to oe rima, CSIP, Otahi, CSTP-FO and COSAC.

Local media reported that about 3,000 people protested outside the territorial assembly in the capital Papeete to demand that the government withdraw its regressive pension “reform” bill. The unions said there were 8,000-10,000 demonstrators. The legislation is due to be submitted for debate at the end of the month and passed into law on March 1.

The trade union leaders called an end to the “indefinite” strike at 5 p.m., following an hour-long meeting with…

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