ITALY - The Italian government has finally reached agreement with trade unions on pension reforms to gradually raise the country's State retirement age.
Negotiations continued through last night, and Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi announced this morning the parties had agreed to phase in an increase in the minimum retirement age from 57 at present to 61, the Ministry of Work and Social Security has confirmed.
This increase will take place gradually over four years, and reach completion in 2013 but contrasts an existing law which would have brought the national retirement age up to 60 by next year.
A spokesman for the Treasury said the savings originally sought by the government will now be achieved through other measures and actions undertaken within the pensions system.
Labour Minister Cesare Damiano said the new measure sacrifices €10bn in savings the current law would have brought.
A deal to secure this pensions reform agreement has now been unanimously supported in a Cabinet meeting, the ministry has also confirmed.
This hard-fought compromise brings to an end a dispute between the government and the country's strong trade unions which has raging for several months, during which the unions heavily criticised proposals for a sudden three-year increase of the retirement age.