FRANCE – French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin has presented the proposals for pensions reform to the council of ministers and president Jacques Chirac and is awaiting approval on May 28.

Yesterday saw Raffarin present the proposed reforms which will see an increase in duration of contributions for French public and private sector workers. Public sector workers will see their contribution duration increase to 40 years after 2008 to bring it in line with that of the private sector. Both sectors will then see their contribution period rise to 41 years in 2012, increasing to 41.75 by 2020

Speaking on French television, France 2, last night, Raffarin is reported as saying: “This pension reform, that this country must have, is in the interest of our children.” He added that it is a “well-prepared reform” of which he approved.

French unions have been rallying against the reforms and are planning a national strike on May 13, but Raffarin has made clear he will not have the reforms blocked, saying he will listen only to those who have constructive proposals and will work only with those who wish to improve the reform to save the country’s pensions system.

The council of ministers will announce its decision on the reforms May 28. The final bill is expected to be passed in mid-July.