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  • A man riding a bicycle passes near a tramway as the transport workers' strike continues in Paris, France, Dec. 16, 2019.

    A man riding a bicycle passes near a tramway as the transport workers' strike continues in Paris, France, Dec. 16, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 17 December 2019

Instead of making companies contribute more money for pensions, the French government seeks to increase the minimum age for retirement.

Through demonstrations and the stoppage of public transport, French unions Tuesday carry out the thirteenth consecutive day of a national strike against President Emmanuel Macron's pension reform.

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France: Unions Keep Pressure Against Macron's Pension Reform

Their protests, which happen on the eve of a Christmas holiday, will measure the workers' mobilization capacity and will be compared with the first demonstration that took place on Dec. 5, when more than 1.5 million citizens joined the protests.

The General Confederation of Labour (CGT), the Workers' Force, the French Confederation of Management & General Confederation of Executives (CFE-CFC), Solidaires, and the United Trade-Union Federation (FSU) demand the withdrawal of the pension reform project.

This happens in the context of a government that is weakened by the resignation of Jean-Paul Delevoye, the High Commissioner for Pensions, who left his office afterward of disclosures about his undeclared activities and mandates, as local outlet France 24 reported.

The country's largest union, the CGT, which will hold negotiations with the government on Wednesday, admitted the need for the 42 current pension schemes to be unified into a single universal system.

However, its Secretary-General Laurent Berger is categorically opposed to the "equilibrium age," which Macron's administration wants to induce to supposedly compensate for the financial problems of the pension system. For this would mean raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 years in 2027.

Berger believes that "there are other short-term solutions," one of which is to increase contributions or use pension reserve funds.

Nevertheless, the Finance Minister Gerald Darmanin said that, in addition to the fact that companies are opposed to increases in contributions, such an option would reduce the worker's purchasing power and the competitiveness of the French economy.

On Tuesday, the daily activities began in the middle of a noticeable absence of public transport because only 20 percent of the trains were running. In turn, as a result of the strike, school activities ere suspended.

In Paris, the main demonstrations are expected to begin at 1:30 pm (local time) at the Republic Square and Nation Square, where workers will ask the government to completely withdraw its reform project.

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