French PM Borne offers to tweak pension overhaul to win conservatives backing

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French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne offered on Sunday to soften a planned pension overhaul to let some people who started work early also retire early in order to win conservatives support for the reform in parliament.

President Emmanuel Macron’s government wants to raise the retirement age two years to 64 and extend the period workers have to pay in as part of a reform it says is necessary to keep the system out of the red in the coming years.

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Since his party lost its majority last year, the government needs votes from the conservative Les Republicains to pass the unpopular reform in parliament.

While workers who started to work before 20 would be allowed to continue to leave the workforce early under the reform, Borne said she was open to suggestions from conservatives to extending the measure.

“We are going to move by extending the measure for long careers to those who started working at 20 and 21. They will be able to retire at 63,” Borne said in an interview with Le Journal du Dimanche Sunday newspaper.

She added that the move would affect up to 30,000 people and cost up to 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) per year, which meant that a source of financing would need to be found.

Her government has faced two days of nationwide strikes since presenting the reform on January 10 with unions planning another on Tuesday.

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