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French Pm, Unions Fail To Break Pension Strike Deadlock As Christmas Looms

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By Reuters

PARIS, FRANCE (DECEMBER 19, 2019) (REUTERS) ***WARNING CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** FRENCH PRIME MINISTER EDOUARD PHILIPPE ARRIVING FOR MEETING WITH UNIONS HEAD OF CGT UNION PHILIPPE MARTINEZ ARRIVING FOR MEETING WINDOWS OF HOTEL MATIGNON, WHERE PRIME MINISTER HOLDS OFFICE HEAD OF CFDT UNION LAURENT BERGER ARRIVING FOR MEETING PHILIPPE, HEALTH SECRETARY AGNES BUZYN, MINISTER IN CHARGE OF PENSION REFORM LAURENT PIETRASZEWSKI, UNION LEADERS AND OTHER GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS IN ROUND TABLE MEETING WINDOW OF MATIGNON MATIGNON PERSONNEL BEHIND WINDOW PHILIPPE ARRIVING TO MAKE STATEMENT JOURNALISTS LISTENING (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH PRIME MINISTER EDOUARD PHILIPPE, SAYING: "I can already observe that these past days' discussions have allowed us to achieve concrete progress - first on the subject of work-related hardships. We have decided to make it one of the pillars of the universal pension system, around a very simple principle - that when we take on a hard job in the private or public sector - this will open up the same rights to everyone." PHILIPPE SPEAKING (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH PRIME MINISTER EDOUARD PHILIPPE, SAYING: "Since the launch of the reform and despite opposition, I have been very clear - the government will not back down on the elimination of special regimes. However I reiterate my desire to implement this elimination in a non-brutal manner. And we will be able to do it." (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH PRIME MINISTER EDOUARD PHILIPPE, SAYING: "The balanced budget in the pension system is a priority for the president and for the government. We are talking about new rights, we are talking about the future of a new system and its robustness." PHOTOGRAPHERS FILMING (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH PRIME MINISTER EDOUARD PHILIPPE, SAYING: "The progress that we have made should allow for work to recommence in the public sector. I know the dedication of workers in these companies to the continuity of public services- it's not lip service; and to the idea of general interest - which is not lip service either. I then call on each one's sense of responsibility, to very quickly allow the millions of French people who want to join their families in this holiday season." LEFT-WING CGT UNION LEADER, PHILIPPE MARTINEZ, EXITING AND WALKING TO MICROPHONE (SOUNDBITE) (French) LEFT-WING CGT UNION LEADER, PHILIPPE MARTINEZ, SAYING: "Lots of promises, always promises for everyone, nothing concrete, the only thing that is concrete is that the prime minister hasn't heard what the street is saying and so we have to face our responsibilities." (SOUNDBITE) (French) LEFT-WING CGT UNION LEADER, PHILIPPE MARTINEZ, SAYING: "As you know the CGT does not share this project and so, in the name of the inter-union, I can tell you that another day of action will take place on January 9th." BERGER WALKING TO MICROPHONE PHOTOGRAPHER (SOUNDBITE) (French) HEAD OF CENTRE-LEFT UNION SCFDT, LAURENT BERGER, SAYING: "As I've said before, the thing that is vexing is the disagreement on the question of the age of equilibrium. There's a disagreement on the moment which consists of saying that there would be an urgent need for punitive measures for the workers." CAMERAMAN FILMING
Dateline: 2019

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