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France's Macron will not abandon controversial pension reforms but is open to compromise

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France's Macron will not abandon controversial pension reforms but is open to compromise
Copyright  CHRISTIAN HARTMANN / POOL / AFP
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French President Emmanuel Macron says he won't abandon his government's controversial pension reforms but was open to compromise with unions.

Macron spoke of a "possible improvement around the retirement age", which in the reform will be pushed to 64, from 62, for workers wishing to retire with a full pension.

He added he hoped "to have progress by the end of the week".

The president said that his goal was also to "obtain a break" in the strikes for the holiday, after French unions warned earlier on Wednesday that there would be no "Christmas truce" in its dispute with the government over pension reforms.

Macron's prime minister Edouard Philippe, who announced the detailed reforms last week, met with union representatives for negotiations throughout the day.

France has entered its second week of nationwide strikes in opposition to the government's project.

Between 615,000 (according to the government) and 1.8 million (according to the CGT union) marched on Tuesday in opposition to the reforms, in the latest in a series of strikes and marches that have paralysed France's transport sector.

The leader of the CGT union, Philippe Martinez, acknowledged a ``"deep disagreement'' with the prime minister after their meeting.

``"We have two clashing perspectives",`` Martinez said. "We don't have the same values.''

Recent polls show a majority of the French support the strikes and protests, as they fear the proposals will make them work longer in return for lower pensions.

Jean-Daniel Levy, a political analyst with the Harris Interactive market research firm, said a big majority of the French hope the strikes will be suspended during the holidays but want the protests to resume.

``"There's a general feeling that protesting at Christmas time would be perceived as radical attitude, with which the French cannot agree," he said.