France's Macron to give up presidential pension in reform gesture

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Abidjan on Dec 21, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (REUTERS) - French President Emmanuel Macron, whose plans to reform the pension system have run into fierce public opposition, will forego a special presidential pension payout when he eventually steps down, his office said on Sunday (Dec 22).

Under a law dating back to 1955, France's presidents are entitled to draw a pension of about 6,000 euros (S$8,995) per month before tax as soon as they leave office.

Macron will waive these pension rights and change the presidential scheme to bring it into line with the wider overhaul of France's retirement system, his office said, confirming an earlier report by French daily Le Parisien.

The 42-year-old president will be years away from France's legal retirement age of 62 when he leaves office even if he serves two full five-year terms.

"The President of the Republic will converge ... with the universal points system planned for all French people," Macron's office said.

"It is a question of being exemplary and coherent."

Two weeks of nationwide industrial action against Macron's pension reform, which would scrap special regimes for sectors like the railways and make people work to 64 to draw a full pension, have crippled train services.

Speaking on Saturday during a visit to Ivory Coast, Macron called on transport unions to suspend strikes during the Christmas holidays to avoid disrupting travel for families.

But despite calls by some unions to suspend strikes during the festive season, several rail workers' groups are continuing stoppages as travellers head off on holiday.

National rail operator SNCF continued to run reduced services on Sunday, including half the usual number of its high-speed TGV trains.

But faced with an outcry over the cancellation of holiday services for children travelling without their parents, the SNCF laid on several trains for kids on Sunday.

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