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French Parliament Votes To Allow Retirement At 70 


By James Mackenzie and Louise Ireland, International Herald Tribune


November 1, 2008



French workers may be allowed to continue working past the age of 65 under a measure approved by the lower house of parliament and criticised by the opposition as opening the way to pushing back the official retirement age.

The measure, voted in late on Friday night and needing Senate approval to become law, would prevent employers from making employees retire at 65 from January, 2010.

"Society is evolving because we are living longer, the rules have to evolve as well," Labour Minister Xavier Bertrand told France Info radio on Saturday.

He denied the rule was an effort to undermine the current system under which workers can retire on a full pension at 60 if they have paid contributions for a minimum number of years. The contribution period is set to rise from 40 to 41 years by 2012.

"Nothing has been changed. The only thing that was voted in last night is that we just stop systematically getting rid of French people who want to stay in their company and who are perfectly capable of staying in their company," he said.

Like other industrialised countries, France faces growing pressure on its pension system and has been forced to increase the pensions contribution period to 41 years despite strong opposition from unions.

But the measure was denounced by the opposition Green party which said that it effectively opened the way to forcing people to work longer.

"The retirement age is being insidiously pushed back to 70 years," Martine Billard, a Greens deputy said in a statement.

A separate measure voted on Friday, allowing airline pilots and cabin crew to work until 65 has already sparked strike threats from unions representing staff at Air France.

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