Retiring truckers may get five years’ holiday

I was interested to read your online interview with a lorry driver during the recent strike / blockade where he talked about a special regime which gives drivers five years’ holiday before retirement: how can this be? Is this what the row with train drivers is about? M.W.

25 October 2017
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It is true that some lorry drivers do get five years’ holiday before they retire. It is called the congé de fin d’activité (CFA) and was won 20 years ago after a series of strikes and has been used by some 35,000 drivers.

It allows drivers such as HGV, coach, removals and security drivers driving vehicles over 3.5 tonnes to stop work five years before their legal age if they have 20 years’ (for security drivers) to 26 years’ service.

This CFA is paid for by their own social charges, the company (which must hire a replacement driver on a CDI) and the state and gives them 75% pay until the driver retires fully.

It faced threats from Pres­ident Macron’s call for a universal retirement system and a claim from social benefits payments agency Urssaf that it was a pre-retirement pension which should face 50% social charges.

Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne said during the dispute that the CFA was not under threat and the state agreed to maintain funding and to stop Urssaf actions before a final deal to end the strike was signed.

This deal avoided breaching Mr Macron’s newly-signed decrees on the Code du Travail by integrating drivers’ bonuses for working unsocial hours, travelling costs and the 13th month into their pay.

Other industries also have special retirement systems including, as you say, train drivers who want to defend their right to retire at 52. In fact there are 37 different ‘régimes’ for groups as diverse as MPs, sailors, EDF-GDF workers, public servants and even the Comé­die Fran­çaise.

In the case of SNCF, Mr Macron has proposed paying off its €50billion debt in return for ending its special regimes.

Across the EU, the average working lifetime is 35.6 years from the age of 15 with the UK on 38.8 and France on 35.

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