Macron pushes ahead with pension reform despite strikes

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A woman pictures the closed access to the subway lines Friday, Dec.13, 2019 in Paris. French President Emmanuel Macron suggested Thursday that he was ready to make changes to his plans to overhaul the pension system as a major union warned that nationwide strikes and protests could continue unabated until Christmas. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

BRUSSELS – France's president said Friday that he wants the government to push ahead with an overhaul of the nation's pension system despite more than a week of damaging strikes.

Emmanuel Macron told reporters in Brussels that his pension overhaul is a “historic reform for our country" that better equips it for 21st century challenges. He said the changes, which including raising the retirement age to 64 and ending special privileges for some workers, will make the pension system fairer and will keep it out of debt.

He expressed “solidarity” with his fellow citizens, but did not specifically address unions' complaints or the transportation headaches that travelers have been facing since the strikes began Dec. 5.

“It's good that the government is working on this, let it continue the work and advance,” he said.

Macron also reminded the French public that he promised the to overhaul the pension system during his 2017 campaign.

Unions want to push the strike through Christmas. The many French workers who support the strike fear the pension changes will force people to work longer for less money and threaten the French welfare state.