French National Assembly approves retirement age change

PARIS, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) — The lower house of the French parliament approved on Friday night a proposal to raise the country’s legal minimum retirement age from 60 to 62 by 2018.

The age adjustment was a key part of President Nicolas Sarkozy’ s controversial pension reform bill.

Despite divided opinions among right-wing lawmakers of the National Assembly, a majority of the legislators voted for the age article in the bill.

As the ruling party UMP owns more than half of the parliament’s seats, another clause on postponing the legal age for full pension from 65 to 67 regardless of the contribution period of the pensioner is also expected to be passed later Friday.

The pass of the clause means the most important part of the pension bill has crossed the first legislative hurdle before a vote on the entire bill scheduled for Sept. 15. The bill will then be presented to the Senate for further examination.

Sarkozy has vowed to push French citizens to work longer in order to overhaul financial holes undermining the pension fund. But in the face of street wrath from trade unions, the president agreed to make some concessions for heavy jobs with health risks.

Between 1.1 million and 2.5 million people went on strike when the lower house of the parliament started the bill review on Tuesday. Moreover, trade unions have announced plans to stage another one-day national strike on Sept. 23.

Sarkozy’s government aims to prolong the present retirement age by 4 months per year gradually to 62 in 2018.

According to the present pension scheme adopted in 1983 under then socialist president Francois Mitterrand, French people’s legal retirement age is 60 and retirees can get full pension after 40 years of contribution or if they retire at 65.

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