Started in early September, weekly negotiations around the future amount of supplementary pensions for private sector employees (Agirc-Arrco) are entering their home stretch. Managed equally between unions and employers, this scheme pays more than 87 billion euros in pensions to 13 million retirees each year. The last framework agreement, concluded in 2019, is expiring, and the protagonists have until Wednesday October 4 to define the rules which will apply from November 1, for the period 2023-2026.
Unions and employers met this Friday, September 29 for a penultimate session. “It was a fight of numbers” and the negotiation will be difficult this week, summarized Force Ouvrière (FO) negotiator Michel Beaugas.
A revaluation “indexed to inflation” at the heart of the debates
According to Yvan Ricordeau (CFDT), “there will be a central hypothesis”, that of a revaluation “indexed to inflation” or at least “close to inflation” on November 1, he detailed. As a reminder, the general increase in prices amounted to +4.9% in September, a level equal to that of August but higher than that of previous months. The discussion will be especially difficult for the period 2024-2026, since the unions would like to follow inflation, while the employers would rather lean towards a “under-indexing”, to avoid any deficit over the period.
Several trade union organizations are therefore demanding an increase of at least 5 to 5.2%. To justify this increase, the unions highlight the excellent financial health of the scheme which currently has financial reserves equivalent to 9 to 10 months of pensions to be paid. That is more than its “golden rule” which requires staying six months ahead, over a 15-year horizon. Unlike the general system, Agirc-Arrco has generated copious surpluses in recent years: 2.6 billion in 2021 and more than 5 billion in 2022. And, another argument, the pension reform must bring the system an additional 22 billion over 15 years old.
Reduced contribution, new rights, end of the “penalty”…
On the other hand, employers would rather favor an increase of around 4.6%, according to several unions, which they did not confirm to the press. He pleads for a “reduction in contributions” and is also favorable to the idea of introducing new rights for retirees combining employment and retirement.
Another subject on the negotiating table, and which was “almost done” following one of the September meetings according to the unions, the removal of the “malus” (or solidarity coefficient). This mechanism, introduced in 2019 during a lean period to replenish the coffers, aimed to encourage employees to work one more year – i.e. at the time until age 63 – even though they already met the conditions for go at full rate. Failing this, they saw their supplementary pension cut by 10% for three years.
But margins risk shrinking. Because the executive invites itself to the table. The last question “It’s, ‘How do we deal with the government hold-up?’ », also recalled Denis Gravouil (CGT). The government is in fact demanding at least one billion euros from Agirc-Arrco to finance the increase in small pensions provided for by its reform. The social partners could consider “internal solidarity measures”, rather around 300 to 400 million euros, but “no question of putting in a billion”, warned Pascale Coton (CFTC). She called on the government to “do not jeopardize this regime” Currently “well managed” by social partners. Otherwise, she warned, the executive “will have to be held accountable to the French.”