19, December 2019
French President Emmanuel Macron has ruled out dropping his plan for a single points-based pension system, but is “willing to improve” it in the face of fierce union resistance, an official in the presidency said Wednesday.
“The president will not abandon the project nor water it down, though he is willing to improve it,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“An improvement is possible concerning the pivot age” of 64 at which a worker would qualify for a full pension — a particular target of union ire that has sparked two weeks of massive public transport strikes, the official added.
Macron’s office also said the government was talking with unions to get a break in transport strikes for Christmas holidays.
Earlier on Tuesday, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the government was determined to implement its planned one-size-fits-all model for the pension system, even though the nationwide strike in protest at the policy plan has crippled the country.
“Democratic and union opposition to our project is perfectly legitimate. But we have stated clearly what our project was and my government is totally determined to reform the pensions system and to balance the pension system’s budget,” Philippe told parliament.
Unions say the new system will introduce a “points system” for retirement, which will have a significant impact on both the public and private sectors and will force them to work well beyond the official retirement age of 62.
However, President Macron, whose government has been under constant pressure by weekly Yellow Vest protest rallies over the past year, insists that the reform plan will make for a fairer system and help erase pension system deficits forecast to reach as much as 17 billion euros (19 billion dollars) by 2025.
In central Paris on Tuesday, police fired tear gas canisters at protesters, who responded by throwing projectiles at lines of police officers.
Also on Tuesday, clashes occurred between riot police and protesters in the western city of Nantes. During the past months, the city has been the scene of frequent clashes between police and far-left radical groups. The plan has also sparked a crippling strike in the transport sector.