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French government, unions resume pension talks amid transit strike

French government, unions resume pension talks amid transit strike
Access to a subway station is closed during a strike in Paris on Sept. 13. File Photo by Ian Langsdon/EPA-EFE

Jan. 7 (UPI) -- The French government and union representatives restarted negotiations Tuesday with the aim of ending the longest transportation strike in decades and coming to terms on reforms for the country's pension programs.

The talks began as the protests against President Emmanuel Macron's pension plan became the longest work strike since 1968. The transportation stoppage, which began Dec. 5, is the longest in the train service's nine-decade history.

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Protests and the off-and-on public transit strikes have been ongoing for months since Macron announced plans to combine France's various pension plans into one system. His attempt to even out the retirement age across all systems to 64 has been a main source of contention for workers. Currently, the official retirement age to receive a full pension in France is 62.

Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said he believes the government and unions can come to an agreement. Still, transit workers haven't called off the strikes, which have led to more than $650 million in lost ticket sales.

Rail systems expect to be about 75 percent operational overall Wednesday. The Channel Tunnel service is fully operational, while the international Eurostar is about 90 percent operational.

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