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AFP
December 7, 2019

French govt sticks by pension reform as strike bites

World

AFP
December 7, 2019

PARIS: The French government on Friday expressed determination to plough ahead with far-reaching pension reforms in the face of the biggest strikes in years, which have brought public transport in much of the country to a standstill.

The strikes, which began on Thursday, have seen most high-speed trains cancelled, flights affected and most of the Paris metro shut down in a major challenge to the ambitious reform agenda of President Emmanuel Macron. The turmoil is expected to continue over the weekend and through until at least Tuesday when unions have called more nationwide protests to follow mass rallies on Thursday that brought over 800,000 people onto the streets.

With Macron not yet speaking publicly about the strikes and seeking for now to rise above the fray, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe insisted that the government would not abandon a plan which would require the French "to work a bit longer."

He pledged to work with trade unions to introduce a single "fairer", points-based pension scheme for all, scrapping the 42 more advantageous plans currently enjoyed by train drivers, soldiers and a host of other workers in the process.

The centre-right premier added that the government was "very determined" to implement the reform, adding he did not believe the French would always accept a situation where some retire earlier, and with more money than others doing comparable jobs.