September 2, 2010

FRANCE: France firm on raising retirement age despite protests

PARIS, France / Associated Press / September 2, 2010

Massive street protests planned for next week won't dent the French government's resolve to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62, the labor minister said Thursday.

Unions plan demonstrations and strikes Tuesday and have urged private and public sector employees, the jobless, young people and retirees to join.

The government expects a strong turnout and respects the people's right to take to the streets, Labor Minister Eric Woerth said.

"At the same time, I say to myself, that's not what's going to make us change the pension reform," Woerth told journalists. "Because if we change our reform fundamentally, at the end there is no pension reform."

French labor minister Eric Woerth. AP Photo/Jacques Brinon

The plan, which goes before parliament the same day as the demonstrations, aims to cut France's ballooning deficit and make the money-losing pension system break even starting in 2018.

But many here see retirement at age 60 as a pillar of the social welfare benefits that underpin modern France.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press.

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