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French gov’t gives in to dancers

Dec 30,2019
With France gripped by strike action crippling the transport system in a dispute over pensions reform, news emerged Saturday of the latest government concessions - to striking ballet dancers at the Paris Opera.

News of the offer added to a series of concessions made to striking workers in different sectors, as the strike entered its 24th day.

But the government is still insisting it will maintain the main thrust of the reform - to replace more than 40 separate pension schemes with a single points-based system.

Financial daily Les Echos revealed Saturday that Culture Minister Franck Riester and Laurent Pietraszewski, the junior minister leading the pensions reform project, had written to the head of the Paris Opera.

They proposed that the pensions reforms only come into force for dancers recruited after Jan. 1, 2022, according to a document, dated Dec. 23, consulted by AFP.

The government, in its letter to the dancers, also proposed a professional conversion plan for dancers reaching the end of their career.

Footage of the striking dancers and their orchestra performing extracts from “Swan Lake” in front of the historic venue on Tuesday, Dec. 24, went viral this week.

The special retirement plan for the Paris Opera, which allows dancers to bow out at age 42, was introduced in 1698 by King Louis XIV - making it among the oldest in France.

The government has also written to the Comedie Francaise, France’s most prestigious theatre company, and the directors of both companies have been invited to talks from early next year.

AFP