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Parisian firefighters, police battle one another during protest over better working conditions and pay

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Paris — French President Emmanuel Macron’s government was set to sign off on a much-debated set of pension reforms on Friday, despite renewed strikes that have crippled public transport in the capital Paris.

Hardline unions called their members out on the streets for another day of protests as Macron’s government was set to sign off on the text of a draft law, which would then have to be put before parliament.

Sirens wailed around the city as vans loaded with riot police moved into position. More police vans and plainclothes officers on motorbikes waited on bridges across the Seine.

The Eiffel Tower was closed to visitors due to staff being out on strike, and most lines on the Paris metro were running only a reduced service.

Macron has remained unyielding in the face of repeated — but dwindling — protests over the reforms, marred by vandalism and violence on the margins.

The centrist president says the planned single national pension system will be fairer than the existing multiple professional schemes, and will be more suitable for fragmented modern-day careers.

But hardline unions fear that the reform will disadvantage workers with uneven career histories, and force almost everyone to work longer; for some, such as train drivers who can now retire at 52, it would mean working much longer.

The government has sought to mollify more moderate unions, who were not opposed to the reform in principle, by provisionally withdrawing a short-term raise in the standard age for retirement on a full pension from 62 to 64.

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