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Spotlight on France

Podcast: France's Space Cowboys, citizens weigh in on climate change, and the minimum wage turns 70

Audio 25:31
Spotlight on France episode 30
Spotlight on France episode 30 RFI

Finding work in France when you're over 60 is tough, but a team of "senior" Space Cowboys is proving they can be an added value. Also, how the new Citizen Climate Assembly is putting participative democracy into action. And 70 years of the minimum wage in France which protects people from poverty.

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The government's pension reform plan seeks to get people working longer. But as only one in three people over the age of 60 are in work in France, the reform risks keeping them unemployed for longer. Assystem, a French engineering firm, is convinced that "senior" employees are worth betting on, and has created the "Space Cowboys", a team of experts in their 50s and 60s whose savoir faire is proving an added value, not a burden, to the company. We talk to its founder Hubert Labourdette (@hlaburdette) and Space Cowboy Andrew Whiting. (Listen @0'00)

The Great Debate, which followed the yellow vest protest movement, didn't come to much, but there's more hope for the Citizen Climate assembly, introduced by President Macron this year. 150 randomly-chosen French people are thrashing out proposals to try and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 per cent compared to 1990 levels. The government has promised to take their suggestions on board. Climate activist Mathilde Imer (@MathildeImer) is on the steering committee and says this kind of participation on a national level is close to revolutionary. (Listen @14'30)

France's very first minimum wage, the SMIG, was introduced 70 years ago. on 11 February 1950. It's now called the SMIC, but the principle of ensuring a basic minimum revenue to keep working people out of poverty remains the same. 13.5 percent of the workforce in France, or 2.3 million people, earn the SMIC today. (Listen @11'15)

This episode was mixed by Erwan Rome.

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