France is to raise the retirement age and increase taxes on the rich so that the country’s heavily indebted pensions system doesn’t run out of money.
The move was denounced by unions as unjust and they are planning huge street demonstrations against the reform.
The minimum retirement age is to be lifted gradually to 62 in 2018 from the current 60.
People will have to work at least 41.5 years to earn a full pension at 62, against 40.5 years now.
Labour Minister Eric Woerth said: “We cannot ignore the fact that the French population is ageing.”
He added: “In 1980, when someone reached 60 they could expect to live for an additional 17.3 years for men and 22.4 years for women. By 2009, life expectancy at 62 is an additional 20.8 years for men and 25.2 years for women.”
France’s state pension system is forecast to have a 32 billion euro shortfall this year.
But opposition politicians complained this was not the right way to address the problem. Socialist MP François Hollande said: “The reform consists of asking for an extra effort from those who started their professional life early, who had the most demanding jobs, and who have worked for the longest.”
At the same time tax increases aimed primarily at the rich were announced to raise 3.7 billion euros in extra revenue.
But on the streets it was the retirement age that preoccupied people.
One man was unhappy with the planned changes: “I don’t think it’s normal, because there are many youngsters who have no work, and now the elderly are going to have to work longer.”
Another said: “The elderly have worked a lot, and given the crisis and everything, they really want to stop working.”
Even with the proposed change, France will still have one of the earliest legal retirement ages in the developed world.
Germany plans to raise its retirement age to 67, while Britain and Italy are standardising at 65.