France’s upper house of parliament has given its final approval to President Nicolas Sarkozy’s controversial pension reform bill.
Despite ongoing nationwide protests, 177 senators voted for the fully-amended version of the text, compared to 151 who voted against. It will now go before the French lower house national assembly for a final vote on Wednesday.
Speaking after the adoption, France’s Labour Minister Eric Woerth called on those against the bill to end their action. “This is a very important moment. It is time for the protests against this bill to stop because now it is about to become a law,” he said.
However, Socialist Party Senator Jean-Pierre Bel said: “Mr Sarkozy is not finished with pension reform. He will pay politically for his stubbornness. He has not been open to what French people from all backgrounds had to say.”
Outside the Senate and across France, students marched and held rallies against the unpopular reforms, which will see France’s retirement age rise by two years. But turnout was relatively low compared to previous demonstrations.
France’s fuel strikes also appeared to be showing signs of petering out with several oil refineries ending their walkouts. Refuse collectors in Marseilles also went back to work, suggesting a corner may have been turned in the showdown.