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PARIS: On Monday (23 January), the French government pushed ahead with a hotly contested pension reform plan to raise the retirement age to 64, saying balancing the system’s books must be a top priority. .

After the bill was presented at a ministerial meeting, the last step before entering parliament, Labor Minister Olivier Dussopt said: “Returning to this point[of raising the age]will bring the system back into balance. will have to give up

Apart from phasing out the retirement age from 62 now to 64 by 2030, the bill would also reduce the minimum number of years people must contribute to the scheme to receive their full pension from 42 now to 43. to .

Dusopt said the government “does not agree with the unions”, who were at the forefront of Thursday’s massive strikes and protests, with more than 1.1 million people taking to the streets against pension reforms. .

Trade unions are currently preparing another strike day On January 31, it warned that it was ready to step up its actions if the government did not relent.

Ministers say the pension system will run into billions of dollars in deficits over the next few years and must find savings to avoid costly additions from general taxation.

They advocate opposition by using some of their reform savings to pay for measures such as a minimum pension of €1,200 (US$1,300) per month and offering a minimum age exemption for those who start working in the workplace. He hoped to soften the faction. teens.

“Break apart the text”

Cabinet ministers now have to lead reforms through parliament, where they face determined opposition, especially from the left.

Mr Dusopt said the government would accept amendments that “improve the text of the bill without giving up the basics of reform and rebalancing the books by 2030”.

François Ruffin, the leading parliamentarian for the far-left party France Amboud, said his colleagues would not try to bury the debate under an avalanche of 75,000 amendments.

Instead, the group would offer “a staunch opposition that allows the text and the government’s lies to be piecemealized.”

He argued that President Emmanuel Macron was “not making this reform for economic reasons, but trying to impose his powers” on the country.

Macron himself won his second presidential election on Sunday, reiterating that pension reform was part of his program in last year’s elections, but lost his parliamentary majority in a parliamentary vote weeks later.

Now lawmakers in the beleaguered government are considering their own amendments.

“Our parliamentarians will have the right to improve this reform,” Stéphane Sejourne, leader of the president’s Renaissance party, told Franceinfo radio on Monday.

Support for pension reform appeared weak among left-wing and smaller allies in Mr Macron’s parliamentary group, with former minister Barbara Pompili saying last week that she “couldn’t vote for reform at this stage”. . French government refuses to roll back pension reform

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