French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced on Saturday that the government was "willing" to scrap the most contested provision of the pension reform plan in a move to appease protesting trade unions.
"To demonstrate my confidence in the social partners... I am willing to withdraw from the bill the short-term measure I had proposed" to set a so-called "pivot age" of 64 with effect from 2027, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe wrote in a letter to union leaders a day after they met seeking to end a crippling transport strike now in its 38th day.
A controversial point among the French government's new pension reform plan, and one which had caused great anger among ordinary citizens, was the plan to introduce a "pivot age" that would have seen people having to work until the age of 64 to gain a full pension - this is two years after the legal retirement age of 62.
Over the last week, at least 450,000 protestors were reported to have turned out in towns and cities across France over the proposed change to the age that citizens can claim pensions at. The protests were widely reported to have been some of the largest in France's history. The turnout was so significant, that French president Emmanuel Macron was forced to call for a "quick compromise" last week to end the strikes.
Mr Macron unveiled his plans for pension reform in early December 2019. The idea is to create a single, universal points-based system for all citizens, which will scrap the 42 sector-specific pension policies for different work areas, such as rail and energy. However, the lifting of the pension age was one policy too far for many.
Prime Minister Philippe has previously asserted that to balance the pension budget, workers should be prompted to continue working until the age of 64 in order to reap the benefits of a full pension, instead of risking a reduced one by retiring at the age of 62 years old. However, France's many trade unions have angrily argued that this would mean longer work for potentially lower pension payments.
A defining feature of the anti-pension reform protests is that they are not only lead by France's traditionally left-wing trade unions, but also those seen as more 'moderate.'
According to a recent poll, 61% of the French people feel that the public strike is justified, while 57% allegedly said that they want it to stop.