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World French govt open to negotiate as unions pursue pension strike

13:00  12 december  2019
13:00  12 december  2019 Source:   msn.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 officials said Thursday they were open to negotiating a plan that could push back many people's retirement to 64, after unions vowed to maintain a transport strike through the year-end holidays unless the government backs down on its pension overhaul.

PARIS: The French government will unveil the details of a pension reform plan Wednesday that has already seen workers down tools in anticipation, crippling transport for a week as hundreds of thousands took to the streets in protest. A speedy resolution appears unlikely, with Prime Minister

French officials said Thursday they were open to negotiating a plan that could push back many people's retirement to 64, after unions vowed to maintain a transport strike through the year-end holidays unless the government backs down on its pension overhaul.

"There's room for negotiating, over the terms for arduous jobs, over the methods for balancing the budget," Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told France 2 television.

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

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

Edouard Philippe insisted the government would pursue its objective of creating a new points-based pension system that fuses the country's 42 existing plans into one, but Unions at state rail operator SNCF called for the transport strike to be "reinforced" in response, while the biggest union at Paris's

French unions tightened the screws Wednesday with a seventh day of transport strike as the government prepared to unveil the details of a pension reform plan workers fear will leave them poorer. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is set to unveil the minutiae of the proposed overhaul at

Unions have unanimously reected the government's plan for a single pension system that maintains the legal retirement age at 62, but with reduced payouts unless a person works until at least 64.

Even France's moderate CFDT union, the country's largest and long in favour of a single points-based system, said the government had crossed a "red line" and called for a fresh day of mass demonstrations for December 17.

"To have a compromise within reach, and then throw it away over a question of budgetary dogmatism is a huge mistake," CFDT chief Laurent Berger told French daily Les Echos.

Public transport was again brought to a near standstill in Paris as workers walked off the job for the eighth straight day, forcing many schools to cancel classes and preventing many people from getting to work.

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.

The 2010 pension reform strikes in France were a series of general strikes and demonstrations which occurred in France throughout September and October 2010.

The French government will unveil the details of a pension reform plan Wednesday that has already seen workers down tools in anticipation, crippling The numbers, which unions claimed were far greater, were markedly down from the first day of the strike on December 5, when more than 800,000

"There won't be any Christmas truce," warned Laurent Brun, head of the transport arm at France's hard-line CGT union, the largest among public-sector workers including at rail operator SNCF.

"I'm sorry to say the strike will continue, because we didn't want this, but the government is standing firm, so this is going to go on for a long time," he told France Info radio.

- 'Let's discuss it' -

Le Maire called on the CFDT in particular to return to the bargaining table, saying the government was ready to hear its proposals.

"We propose the age of 64, with a bonus and penalty system," he said. "Are there better solutions? Perhaps, so let's discuss it."

Gilles Le Gendre, head of President Emmanuel Macron's centrist lawmakers, also urged Berger to reopen talks.

"Since yesterday, everyone is saying the age of 64 is set in stone, but that is not true," he told Cnews television.

Union workers blocked the major Atlantic shipping port at Le Havre on Thursday, and just one in four high-speed TGV and regional trains were running.

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.

French unions tightened the screws Wednesday with a seventh day of transport strike as the government prepared to unveil the details of a pension reform plan workers fear will leave them poorer.

The French government will unveil the details of a pension reform plan Wednesday that has already seen workers down tools in anticipation, crippling France's most militant unions have sounded an uncompromising note, insisting they will not call off the strike unless the reform is scrapped outright

Commutes were again snarled in Paris, where nine metro lines were completely shut and others offered only minimal service, while fewer than half of buses were operating.

Teachers, lawyers and police unions said they planned new protests against the single pension system which would replace 42 separate schemes offering early retirement and other benefits mainly to public-sector workers.

The government says the reform will help erase pension system deficits forecast to reach as much as 17 billion euros ($19 billion) by 2025.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, who outlined the plan's details Wednesday after months of talks with unions, admitted that most people would have to work longer to maintain the pension system, one of the world's most generous.

The average French person retires at just over 60, three years earlier than elsewhere in Europe, and four years before the average for wealthy nations in the OECD, according to OECD figures.

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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