Unions, employers meet government over French pension reform

Unions, employers meet government over French pension reform
Protestors stand on the statue on the Nation square during a march in Paris, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019. Teachers, doctors, lawyers and workers at the Eiffel Tower — people from across the French workforce walked off the job Tuesday to resist a higher retirement age, and to preserve a welfare system they fear their business-friendly president wants to dismantle. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

PARIS (AP) — With French President Emmanuel Macron under heavy pressure over his pension reform plans, government officials are meeting with employers and unions on Wednesday to consider the way forward.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe will meet with all national workers unions and separately with employers organizations in decisive talks that may lead the government to amend the project.

On Tuesday, hundreds of thousands of French took to the streets across the country to protest against the changes, almost two weeks into a nationwide strike that has crippled public transport.

Macron has said he is determined to push ahead with the reform.

On Wednesday, Macron appointed a junior minister for pensions, Laurent Pietraszewski, a 53-year-old lawmaker with an expertise on the issue.

The nomination comes after the senior politician who had developed the new pension system, Jean-Paul Delevoye, resigned Monday over potential conflicts of interest, a major blow to the government.

The government detailed last week its plans to delay the age of retirement with full pension by two years, from 62 to 64. The project also aims at unifying the 42 different pension regimes into a single one, which would make disappear special provisions allowing certain workers to retire as early as their 50s.

Unions fear the changes will make the French work longer for lower pensions.

Last week, the government opened the door for new negotiations, suggesting it was ready to make some changes to its plans.

Major unions have called for maintaining the strikes during the Christmas holidays.