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AFP
January 12, 2020

French govt seeks compromise to end transport strike

World

AFP
January 12, 2020

PARIS: France’s government on Saturday offered a possible compromise to unions waging a crippling, weeks-long transport strike against pension reform, offering to withdraw the most contested proposal that would in effect have raised the retirement age by two years.

"To demonstrate my confidence in the social partners... I am willing to withdraw from the bill the short-term measure I had proposed" to set a so-called "pivot age" of 64 with effect from 2027, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe wrote in a letter to union leaders a day after they met seeking to end the labour action, now in its 38th day.

The message was delivered as thousands of protesters took to the streets of Paris and other major cities in the fifth mass mobilisation since December 5 to demand the government drop the pension overhaul.

The government is seeking to fuse 42 existing pension schemes into a single, points-based system it says will be fairer and more transparent but which unions fear will see millions work longer for a smaller retirement payout.

Particularly vexing was the proposal to impose a 64 "pivot age" that people will have to work until to qualify for a full pension -- two years beyond the official retirement age.

On Friday, Macron defended the reform, saying that for the pension system to remain viable as a growing number of retirees live ever longer, "either one has to contribute more, or one has to agree to work a little longer", while insisting he does not want to see pensions lowered.

The government said the proposed "pivot age" would plug pension deficits set to soar in coming years, saving five billion euros ($5.6 billion) by 2023 and some 11 billion euros by 2026.