Pension reform

Pension reform - French President Emmanuel Macron has called for a "rapid compromise" with unions over a pension reform. The government claims the reform would be fairer and more sustainable.

Unions have staged four consecutive weeks of strikes that have crippled train and metro services across the country. Macron called for a “rapid compromise” between unions and his government, which has already offered concessions to a growing list of sectors in an effort to woo workers and divide the unions.

Police officers, gendarmes, firefighters and prison guards were among the first to secure guarantees that they would still be able to retire at 57 – and, in some cases, at 52. Air traffic controllers won the same rights, while air pilots and stewards obtained smaller concessions, as did truck drivers, fishermen and Paris Opera dancers.

As the list of exemptions grows longer, opposition parties have mocked a reform that is becoming universal in name only. Macron himself has warned against allowing special treatment for any one group, arguing that more concessions would surely follow, “like dominoes”.

But two categories have been apparently ignored by the government workers at SNCF, France’s national rail company, and RATP, the Paris transport firm – which have spearheaded the strike movement and rank among the reform’s biggest losers.

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