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France names new pensions chief as strikes set to continue over Christmas

Member of parliament Laurent Pietraszewski of "La Republique en Marche" (Republic on the Move or LREM) political party attends the questions to the government session at the National Assembly in Paris, France, October 24, 2017.
Member of parliament Laurent Pietraszewski of "La Republique en Marche" (Republic on the Move or LREM) political party attends the questions to the government session at the National Assembly in Paris, France, October 24, 2017. Charles Platiau, Reuters
4 min

The French government has appointed Laurent Pietraszewski, an MP with Emmanuel Macron’s party in the National Assembly, to replace former high commissioner on pensions Jean-Paul Delevoye, who resigned Monday over undisclosed activities outside of government.

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Pietraszewski, a member of parliament from France’s North region and spokesperson for the La République en Marche group in the National Assembly, was named secretary of state to the ministry of social security and health, in charge of pensions, according to a decree published early Wednesday by the government.

The announcement comes after the resignation Monday of Delevoye, the former high commissioner for pensions, following a series of revelations in the previous week over undeclared, nongovernmental activities that raised questions about potential conflicts of interest.

Delevoye’s July 2019 report is the basis of the Macron government’s pension reform plans, formally announced by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on December 11. The planned pensions overhaul has prompted the largest strike movement in France since 2010, including a third day of mobilisation yesterday that saw at least 615,000 take to the streets.

>> With song and solidarity, French unions rally en masse against pension reform

Philippe is set to meet with unions Wednesday afternoon for a fresh round of negotiations on the reforms. Amid Tuesday’s protests, he told parliament that the government had no intention of backing down on its planned reforms, which would create a single points-based pension system and end the current patchwork of schemes that offers early retirement to some in the public sector.

“My determination, and that of the government and the majority, is total,” Philippe said.

Unions likewise show no intention of backing down. In a press release following Tuesday’s protests, the unions leading the strikes (including CGT, FO and Solidaires) said that they would not observe a “Christmas truce” and that strikes would continue through the holidays unless the government withdrew its pension reforms.

Tuesday’s protests were “a total success”, said CGT leader Philippe Martinez. “Despite the government's attempts at division, the people remain mobilised,” he added.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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