French government puts pensions proposals to social partners

FRANCE – The French government has put forward its proposals for pensions reforms to the social partners.

At a meeting between the social partners and labour minister, Francois Fillon and public sector minister, Jean-Paul Delevoye last Friday, the French government has made the following proposals regarding the pension reform:

- The length of the contribution period for workers will be increased from 37.5 years to 40 years in 2008. This increase will be enforced progressively between 2004 and 2008.

- From 2008 to 2020 this contribution length will be further increased depending on demographic, economic and social circumstances, with an independent commission meeting in 2008, 2013 and 2018 to look at the issue.

- In the private sector, pension will be calculated using 160 quarters as a base rather than 150.

- Increasing the average age of retirement by one and a half years to 59 years of age through a national movement to favour those workers older than 55 years of age.

- Measures to encourage workers to remain in employment beyond 60 years of age. One measure is to introduce a bonus of 2 to 3% for every year worked after the age of 60.

- Progressive opening of the right to early retirement for those who start their working life at a very early age.

- An improvement of the situations for surviving partners

- A right to annuity buy-backs for those who wish to retire without having contributed enough

Meetings continued today, but already some of the unions have expressed their dissatisfaction with the proposals. Further demonstrations are being planned for May. Tomorrow the unions will meet to organise their next moves, and Thursday, Fillon will present the reform to the nation on television channel France-2.

The final bill is expected to be passed in mid-July.

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