The little principality of Monaco, just 2 square kilometres, which is usually so discreet has been in the news since June 21st. Employees in the private sector ( cooks, bankers, hotel workers…) have taken to the streets to show their discontent at pension reform. French people, who made up most of the march were quick to organise themselves. These cross border workers who travel to Monaco every day to work and who cannot live in the principality because of the exorbitant price of rents, make up more than half of the employees. They claim that they shouldn’t have to work extra years ( 7 according to estimations) in order to get their pension. The trade unions are also up in arms over this reform of the pension system which could be very prejudicial for employees.

Casino employees took part in the march and carried notices on which were written the special opening times for that evening. The casino belonging to the Societe des Bains de Mer (SBM) had all of its staff among the protestors. This major employer in the principality was forced to close its casino on the first day of summer. The SBM is facing financial difficulty as its accounts were negatively affected by its investment in the LOV Group, the online gaming group belonging to Stephane Courbit, who is in the middle of a court case with Liliane Bettencourt.

Faced with all this media interest, the Monegasque government is justifying its position by saying that it had no other choice and that if no action is taken at present that the pension fund will head straight into bankruptcy in less than 20 years. Prince Albert II of Monaco took the precaution of sending a letter to all employers and employees, both working and retired, in which the reforms were outlined. Among the important points is the fact that both employer and employee contributions will have to rise. For the moment Prince Albert II has called a special session of parliament which will take place at the end of September in order to validate the proposed law.

Even if employees in the public sector recognise the advantages they have working in Monaco, in particular salaries that are higher than in France, they believe that they have earned their pension and that they should not have to work longer. It seems that pensions are a major problem which is affecting more and more countries…