17 Sep 2010

French pension reform bill clears first hurdle

1:16 pm on 17 September 2010

A pension reform bill in France that raises the retirement age to 62 has cleared its first main hurdle in the lower house of Parliament.

The current minimum age is 60.

The bill was passed 329 votes to 233 after a marathon overnight debate in the National Assembly. It now goes to the Senate for approval.

The BBC reports there were massive street protests and strikes earlier in September to oppose the bill. The government says the bill is needed to address France's deficit.

Under current rules, both men and women in France can retire at 60, providing they have paid social security contributions for 40-and-a-half years - although they are not entitled to a full pension until they are 65.

If passed, the reforms will raise the retirement age to 62 by 2018 and the pension age to 67, and will increase the social security contribution requirement by a year.

The government says this will save the country 70 billion euros.