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Macron approves amendment to contested pension legislation.


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French President Emmanuel Macron signed his controversial pension reform into law on Saturday, raising the state retirement age, despite three months of protests and union calls not to implement the legislation.

The announcement of the law came after France’s constitutional council approved on Friday an increase in the key retirement age, and follows months of demonstrations against the plan, which the government imposed through parliament without a final vote.

The legislation, which would gradually raise the age for state pension withdrawal to 64 from 62, is very unpopular and protests erupted immediately when the decision of the Constitutional Council was announced.

Crowds marched through Paris on Friday evening, with some rubbish bins being burned, while the entrance to a police station in the northwestern city of Rennes was set on fire.

Trade unions called on the government on Friday not to enact the legislation, despite a green light from the Constitutional Council, and urged workers to march aggressively on May Day.

They rejected Macron’s invitation to meet on Tuesday.

The president has staked his reputation as a reformer on pension changes, which he says are needed to avoid billions of euros in deficits each year by the end of the decade.

“Never give up, that’s my motto,” he said on Friday before the Constitutional Council resolution, while he was visiting Notre Dame on the anniversary of a fire that destroyed the famous Paris cathedral.

The government plans to implement the new legislation from September 1.

François Ruffin, an MP for the left-wing LFI party, accused the government on Twitter of announcing the retirement law “like thieves in the night”.

Opposition parties made another attempt to hold a referendum on reform after the Constitutional Council on Friday rejected the first such proposal.

The pension system is a cornerstone of France’s cherished social-protection model, and trade unions say additional funding can be found elsewhere, including by taxing the rich more.

Public hostility to the reform has mounted since the government, which does not have a majority in parliament, pushed through the bill in March without a final vote using special constitutional powers.

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