French Senate backs controversial plans to raise the retirement age to 64

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By Euronews  with AFP
French senate joined on Thursday to vote on the bill.
French senate joined on Thursday to vote on the bill.   -  Copyright  ALAIN JOCARD/AFP or licensors

France's Senate voted Thursday to raise the retirement age by two years to 64, as the government moves to overhaul the country's pensions system in the face of strong opposition from labour unions and nationwide strikes. 

The conservative-dominated legislative body voted in favour of a decisive article to raise the retirement age by 201 votes to 115. The debate will resume later on Thursday over a controversial amendment to the bill. The Senate majority is rushing to meet a deadline of midnight Sunday to finalise the legislation.

Labour unions have vowed to pile pressure on the government by staging protests and strikes. On Wednesday, fuel deliveries, trains and flights were disrupted for a second day following mass rallies.

Macron has put the change at the centre of his political agenda. His government argues that raising the retirement age and stiffening the requirements for a full pension is essential to keeping the system from sinking into deficit.

France's European neighbours have already increased the retirement age to 65 or above.