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France to expect more strikes after PM's ‘mockery’ announcement

FRENCH unions rejected President Emmanuel Macron’s “mockery” of a pension reform plan today, leaving the country to expect further strike action.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced on national television that the government would press on with plans to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64, but offered concessions in a bid to calm nationwide protests.

According to the government, the new scheme is aimed at replacing a complicated pension system that includes special privileges for some sectors with one set of rules for all.

The announcement was made as hundreds of thousands of workers took part in a seventh day of crippling strikes in Paris and other main cities.

Mr Philippe said the widely opposed pension changes would be implemented in phases, “without brutality,” and would not affect workers born before 1975.

He claimed that the government’s proposals would “justify” an end to the industrial action, which has disrupted rail services nationwide and grounded many flights.

But General Confederation of Labour (CGT) union leader Philippe Martinez said: “The government is making fun of everyone.

“We are not happy at all with the government’s announcements,” he said. “It is a joke and in particular it makes a mockery of those who are fighting today.”

The CGT’s rail arm said the proposals were “not up to the mark” and should “encourage workers to strengthen the strike.”

Several other unions agreed, including Force Ouvriere, which said the prime minister’s address only “confirms the necessity to step up the strike action.”

Unions are calling for a fresh day of national protests next Tuesday.

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