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Europe

France sparks union anger with plan to raise retirement age

The French government plans to raise its minimum retirement age from 60 to 62 as the country aims to tackle its budget deficit. Trade unions are up in arms about the plan.

An old man putting several 50 euro notes into a container

French workers retire at 60 after a fixed contribution period

French workers are facing the prospect of having to work for two more years before qualifying for a pension, as the minimum retirement age is set to rise to 62.

Details of the planned change, which was expected to meet strong resistance from trade unions, were announced by French Labor Minister Eric Woerth.

"Working longer is inevitable," Woerth told reporters following a meeting with President Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday. "There is not a magical solution."

"All of our partners in Europe have done it. It is no longer possible to stay on the sidelines of this movement."

French Labor Minister Eric Woerth

Woerth announced the plans after a meeting with President Sarkozy

On Tuesday, tens of thousands of people demonstrated against the reforms in the runup to the announcement. Police said that 23,000 people took part in a march in Paris, with union officials putting the figure at 70,000.

Future protests promised

A bill on the changes is to be presented to the French cabinet in July before going before parliament in September. Unions have promised that they will fight the reforms with demonstrations and strikes.

The French government is introducing the changes, to be fully implemented by 2018, in bid to trim spending on welfare and preserve its credit rating.

The right to a pension from the age of 60 has been part of the French system since 1982.

Under the present system, individuals can draw a full pension from the age of 60 provided that they have paid social security contributions for a minimum of 40 years and six months. The reforms would also change the contribution period to 41 years.

Author: Richard Connor (AFP/Reuters/AP)
Editor: Chuck Penfold

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