PARIS (AP) — French unions held last-minute strikes and protests across the country on Friday before the government presents their divisive project for pension reform. Travelers again suffered disruptions to regional trains and the metro in the capital, Paris, and some schools and other public services also stopped. But Friday’s transport problems were not as serious as those recorded at the start of the mobilizations 50 days ago.
The number of workers on strike and cancelled trains dropped significantly this week after the government made a number of concessions. But unions expect the protests to reactivate opposition to the president’s flagship reform, Emmanuel Macron.Su government will press ahead with the plan, which will be presented to the council of ministers later in the day. The text will then go to parliament, where Macron’s centre-centre party has a large majority. The reform will unify France’s 42 existing pension plans into one that will apply to all workers in both the public and private sectors, and eliminate exceptions that allowed some to retire at age 50. The rule will also introduce a minimum pension. The executive had to backtrack on his proposal to raise the retirement age to receive a full pension from the current 62 years to 64, and negotiated deals with various sectors, including pilots, military and politics, which can still be withdrawn earlier. The new points system will come into force in 2022 for younger workers and will be gradually implemented among the older ones. It will only affect those born after 1974.Many of the details of the reform remain undefined and will be announced later. Macron argues that the previous pension system was unfair, outdated and too expensive for a country with ever higher life expectancy. Unions argue that the reform threatens workers’ acquired rights.