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World French government says it is determined on pension reform as strikes continue

13:23  08 december  2019
13:23  08 december  2019 Source:   reuters.com

France Braces for Second Day of Pension Strikes as Unions Dig In

  France Braces for Second Day of Pension Strikes as Unions Dig In PARIS — Angry railway employees, teachers and other workers in France showed no signs of backing down from a nationwide strike on Friday, having brought public transportation to a standstill in a protest over President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to overhaul the nation’s pension system. Travel was expected to be severely limited between French cities on Friday, with nine out of 10 high-speed trains and seven out of 10 regional express trains likely to be canceled. Stations around the country were almost empty, and some schools remained closed.Sign Up For the Morning Briefing NewsletterIn Paris, most metro lines were shut down and bus services were heavily disrupted.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said he is determined to see through his government 's planned pensions reform , but the leader of hardline FILE PHOTO: French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe delivers a statement at the Hotel Matignon in Paris following a massive strike and protests

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Friday he was sticking with plans to reform the country’s pension system but insisted change would be gradual and “not brutal”. Strikes in France to protest the plans will continue through at least Tuesday, December 10.

PARIS, Dec 8 (Reuters) - The French government said it would see through planned pension reforms but said the new system that has sparked nationwide strikes would be introduced gradually and public concerns would be addressed.

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a ceremony in Nimes, southern France, on December 6, 2019, held to pay tribute to the three rescuers who died late December 1. - Three rescuers died in a helicopter accident as they were rescuing inhabitants during bad weather at the Cote d'Azur, southern France. (Photo by Sylvain THOMAS / AFP) (Photo by SYLVAIN THOMAS/AFP via Getty Images)© Photo by SYLVAIN THOMAS/AFP via Getty Images French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a ceremony in Nimes, southern France, on December 6, 2019, held to pay tribute to the three rescuers who died late December 1. - Three rescuers died in a helicopter accident as they were rescuing inhabitants during bad weather at the Cote d'Azur, southern France. (Photo by Sylvain THOMAS / AFP) (Photo by SYLVAIN THOMAS/AFP via Getty Images)

Paris Opera ballet dancers hang up shoes in pension-reform protest

  Paris Opera ballet dancers hang up shoes in pension-reform protest When tens of thousands of French workers downed tools and took to the streets in protest against pension reform last Thursday, in their midst was a seemingly unlikely group of aggrieved picketers: ballet dancers from the Paris Opera. - Musicians on strike too - The government's reform plan seeks to unify 42 separate pension schemes into a single points-based system for all workers, which it says will be fairer, with fewer exceptions for certain sectors -- including rail workers who retire earlier than most.The French state covers half of the Paris Opera's pension fund, about 14 million euros per year.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Friday nationwide strikes in the public sector would not weaken his resolve to reform the pension system but promised “To all RATP and SNCF staff I say that it would not be reasonable or fair to change the rules of the game after the game has started

How do French workers view the reforms ? Teachers and transport workers were joined by police, lawyers Are Macron's reforms really that controversial? Mr Macron's unified system - which he says would A recent poll concluded that 75% of people thought that pension reforms were necessary

Transport systems were paralysed for a fourth day on Sunday as unions at state railway SNCF and Paris public transport system RATP extended their strike against the changes.

"I am determined to take this pension reform to its completion and ... I will address people's concerns about it," Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told Le Journal du Dimanche.

"If we do not implement a thorough, serious and progressive reform today, someone else will do one tomorrow, but really brutally," he told the weekly publication.

Philippe has said he would present a detailed outline of the pension reform plan on Wednesday.

Macron Grapples With Protests Over French Pensions

  Macron Grapples With Protests Over French Pensions An overhaul of the pension system—particularly entitlements owed to France’s robust public sector—is central to the president’s campaign of transforming the nation’s economy. France spends 14% of its gross domestic product on the pension system, more than most other European countries.The president, a former investment banker, wants people to work longer before collecting their pensions—now set at 43 years for a full pension—rather than raise the legal age of retirement of 62. He also aims to consolidate France’s 42 pension plans, which vary widely in retirement ages and income, into one universal system.

The transport strikes that incapacitated France this week have now been prolonged through early As Mr. Macron moves to overhaul the pension system, it is precisely workers like Mr. Vardon — those French presidents have tended to back down from reform efforts in the past in the face of fierce

French media predicted that the strike could continue for several days and Paris bus and metro operator Unions say they will continue striking until Many people striking also see the reforms as the government stripping away the country's social safety net and liberalizing the pensions and labor

Deputy Environment Minister Emmanuel Wargon told radio France Info the government would be flexible about both the timelime and implementation of the reforms.

"Timelines may be relaxed if necessary and we may differentiate how each special pension system converges with the new system under different deadlines and terms," she said.

She said a date would be set to implement the new system but people's pension rights would be calculated proportionally based on how much time they had worked under the new and old systems.

"Some say that everybody will lose under the new system. Not everybody will lose. It will be rather positive for a significant part of French citizens," she said.

Philippe Martinez, the leader of the CGT union, said the CGT would fight until the government dropped the plan.

"We will continue until the plan is withdrawn," he told the JDD, saying the prime minister should "go back to square one."

France has one of the most generous pension systems among countries in the OECD grouping of industrialised nations.

President Emmanuel Macron was elected in 2017 on a platform to liberalise the economy and reform the pension system.

Macron wants to introduce a pension system with equal rights for everyone and to do away with a set of sub-systems under which some workers at SNCF, RATP and other institutions can retire in their early fifties, a decade ahead of others.

Unions plan a second demonstration on Tuesday, after a Thursday's first protest attracted 65,000 people in Paris and 806,000 nationwide, according to police figures. (Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Frances Kerry and Edmund Blair)

France's massive strikes see major power cuts, Eiffel Tower closed .
Scores of protestors across industries in France entered their 13th day of protets Tuesday, adamantly opposing the government's plan to raise the retirement age to 64.French President Emmanuel Macron said his administration is moving ahead with a plan to create a single universal pension system, promising that it will be fairer and benefit women who have taken time off from the workforce and also anyone who currently is receiving a low pension.

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