French PM offers to meet opposition, unions amid pension crisis


FILE PHOTO: French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne attends debates and votes on two motions of no-confidence against the French government, tabled by centrist group Liot and far-right Rassemblement National party, after the use by French government of the article 49.3, a special clause in the French Constitution, to push the pensions reform bill through the National Assembly without a vote by lawmakers, at the National Assembly in Paris, France, March 20, 2023. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

PARIS (Reuters) - French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne plans to meet with opposition leaders and trade unions in the hope of ending weeks of protests against a new pension law, her office said on Sunday.

Demonstrations against the pension reform, which will raise the retirement age by two years, turned violent after the government pushed through the legislation this month without a final parliamentary vote.

President Emmanuel Macron has ruled out scrapping or delaying the legislation, tasking his prime minister with finding fresh support in parliament after the government failed to find enough votes for the bill.

Borne will meet with political party leaders and also aims to restart dialogue with unions over labour issues, her office said, without mentioning the pension bill.

The prime minister added in an interview with AFP that the meetings with opposition and union leaders would take place in the week starting April 3.

She also pledged not to use constitutional powers to adopt legislation without a vote again except for on budget bills, AFP said.

It is unclear if the government's attempt to draw a line under the pension crisis will calm a majority of the public hostile to the reform and demonstrators exasperated by the adoption of the legislation without a final vote.

Unions have scheduled a 10th day of nationwide protests against the pension law on Tuesday, after a previous day of action last Thursday saw the most violent clashes yet with police.

The head of the CFDT union, Laurent Berger, last week proposed that Macron pause the law for six months to seek a possible compromise.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau, writing by Gus Trompiz, editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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