French pension reforms clear senate, closing in on final approval
FRANCE - Reforms that will see France's state pension age increase from 60 to 62 have passed one of the final hurdles, having been approved by the country's upper house.
The French senate voted in favour of the reforms, passing the bill with a majority of 24, or 177 votes to 153.
The lower assembly previously signed off on the changes being proposed by president Nicolas Sarkozy.
Raymond Soubie, an adviser to Sarkozy, told French radio over the weekend that he expected the bill to become law by mid-November, once the final vote passes on Wednesday.
However, both the upper and lower houses will vote once more this week before the proposals finally become law.
The changes to the pension system have been greeted by widespread protests, crippling parts of the country, with opposition parties to Sarkozy's UMP tabling countless motions in an effort to derail the new law.
Once the reforms pass, the minimum retirement age will increase to 62, while those wishing to draw a full state pension will have to work until 67 rather than the current 65 by 2018.
Plans also include increasing the contribution period to 41.5 years, while it was already set to rise to 41 years by 2012, if workers wish to draw a full state pension.
The Conseil d'orientation des retraites (COR), the country's leading pension advisory body, had previously warned that an even bigger increase in contribution periods would be required if the minimum pension age did not rise to combat rising longevity.