France passes later retirement rules into law

France passes later retirement rules into law

French president Nicolas Sarkozy today sealed his victory in a long-running battle with unions as new retirement rules became law.

Despite a series of massive strikes and street protests, the minimum retirement age is now 62.

The law was published today in the government’s official journal, meaning Mr Sarkozy has signed it and it has gone into effect.

The country’s constitutional watchdog approved the plan yesterday after France’s parliament passed it last month.

The success gives Mr Sarkozy a boost on the international scene as France prepares to take over the leadership of the Group of 20 major economic powers starting on Friday.

French unions and others angry over having to work an extra two years had disrupted train and air travel, caused fuel shortages and allowed rubbish to pile up in the streets. More than a million people had repeatedly taken to the streets in protest.

Mr Sarkozy said today that the pension system had been “saved.”

“(I am) fully aware that this is a difficult reform. But I always considered that my duty, and the duty of the government, was to carry it out,” he said.

Unions had argued that retirement at 60 was a cornerstone of France’s generous social benefit system, but the government said the entire pension system would have been jeopardised without the change because French people are living longer - an average of nearly 85 years for women and 78 for men.

France’s Socialist opposition meanwhile complained that Mr Sarkozy had not taken complaints about the reform seriously. Socialist leader Martine Aubry said Mr Sarkozy “thinks that by keeping his head down and not listening to anybody, he’s showing courage.”

Mr Sarkozy’s approval ratings are hovering around 35%, near their lowest levels since he took office in 2007.

He has not yet announced his intention to run in the 2012 presidential election, but with the tricky pension reform behind him, he can now try to rebuild his popularity at home by turning to less contested matters.

Like many heavily indebted European governments, France is trying to cut back on spending. The pension reform is the latest successful push by a European government to cut back on government spending despite months of anti-austerity strikes and protests.

The French reform means that the minimum retirement age is now 62 instead of 60. Those who want to claim full pension benefits must now wait until age 67 instead of 65.

More on this topic

French air traffic controller strike causing flight disruptions for Aer Lingus passengers this weekendFrench air traffic controller strike causing flight disruptions for Aer Lingus passengers this weekend

Tourists and commuters forced to change plans as French rail strike enters second dayTourists and commuters forced to change plans as French rail strike enters second day

Water cannon used on protesters at Macron protest rally Water cannon used on protesters at Macron protest rally

French bill to raise retirement age becomes lawFrench bill to raise retirement age becomes law

More in this Section

Jeremy Corbyn’s sons pay tribute to their ‘honest’ and ‘humble’ fatherJeremy Corbyn’s sons pay tribute to their ‘honest’ and ‘humble’ father

Boris Johnson to visit newly-elected MPs in UK election victory tourBoris Johnson to visit newly-elected MPs in UK election victory tour

Nigel Farage says he is now concerned with the form of UK’s departure from EUNigel Farage says he is now concerned with the form of UK’s departure from EU

Rod Stewart faces backlash from angry Celtic fans after Boris Johnson tweetRod Stewart faces backlash from angry Celtic fans after Boris Johnson tweet


Lifestyle

Who hasn’t dreamt of cutting ties with the nine-to-five and living off-the-grid?The great escape: What's life like off the grid?

Jazz in Europe these days exists in a highly networked environment of cultural and political bodies, festivals, promoters, musicians and educators.Jazz Connective Festival: Intriguing, exciting and uncompromising

It will be bittersweet for Stormzy that his second album arrives the day the British Labour party was confirmed as suffering a historic general election trouncing.Album review: Stormzy remains a work in progress

Unique drawings by Quentin Blake, one of Britain’s best-loved illustrators, are available at a Christie’s online auction which runs until December 17.Your chance to buy drawings by Roald Dahl illustrator Quentin Blake

More From The Irish Examiner