23 Oct 2010

Pension bill passed by Senate

4:12 pm on 23 October 2010

The Senate in France has approved the government's plans to raise the retirement age by two years, from 60 to 62.

Senators voted 177 - 153 in favour of the bill on Friday evening after the government used a measure known as a guillotine to cut short debate in the upper house.

The BBC reports the bill could become law as early as next week. It also raises the maximum age for a full pension to 67 from 65.

However, opponents of the bill could try to take their objections to a constitutional court.

President Nicolas Sarkozy says the measure is necessary to reduce the deficit.

The government is aiming to cut the national deficit to 6% of gross domestic product next year.

Unions describe the changes as a threat to democracy and say they intend to step up their opposition.

The six main unions have called for two more days of action on 28 October and 6 November even if the bill becomes law.

In addition to the protests and transport strikes, there are strikes at the country's 12 refineries and blockades of fuel depots.

By Thursday, 2790 petrol stations out of 12,500 were reported to be out of fuel.

Half-term holidays begin this weekend.