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France faces fresh round of strikes over unpopular pension reform

France is facing a fresh round of strikes over the highly contested pension reform planned by President Emmanuel Macron.

Garbage piled up in the French capital, Paris, liquefied natural gas operations were suspended, and rail services were cancelled on Wednesday as union leaders urged laborers to walk out.

It was the eighth day of industrial action and street protests across France.

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The government downplayed the strike. “We won’t have the same level of disturbances of public transport as during previous protest days,” Transport Minister Clement Beaune said on Tuesday.

Macron is almost done pushing through with his pension reform plans despite months of protests and ongoing strikes. Macron’s plan to raise the retirement age by two years to 64 has been opposed by labor unions since mid-January.

However, the government claims changes to the pension system, one of the most generous in the industrialized countries, are necessary to keep the pension budget in the black.

The proposed pension bill is going through the final phase, passing to a joint parliamentary committee where lawmakers from the lower and upper  chambers will on Wednesday seek a compromise text before a final vote in both the Senate and National Assembly on Thursday.

On Saturday night, the French Senate approved the reform package.

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Senate’s approval came hours after nationwide demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of French people who threw objects at police, burned garbage cans, and broke windows.

Union leaders say the measures are unfair and would disproportionately affect low-skilled workers tending to do difficult jobs who start their careers early.

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