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Lower house approves plans to raise retirement age to 62

France's lower house of parliament has backed a proposal to increase the retirement age from 60 to 62, a key item on President Nicolas Sarkozy's agenda that unions have vociferously opposed. Senators are due to vote on the law later this month.

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AFP - French lawmakers on Friday approved government plans to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 by 2018, a key item on President Nicolas Sarkozy's agenda to overhaul the costly pension system.

The lower house of parliament was to vote later Friday on proposals to gradually lift the age when pensions will be paid out in full from 65 to 67 regardless of the number of years retirees have contributed to the pension fund.
  

The lower house vote on the entire pension bill has been scheduled for Wednesday before a Senate vote in late September.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon said Thursday, two days after over a million people took to the streets in protest, the pension reform was "reasonable" but not "definitive" and open to adjustments.

He also warned that without an extension of the working life pension schemes could not be balanced.

Unions have called on French workers to make September 23 another "major day of strikes and demonstrations" to fight the reform.

French workers have been legally entitled to retire at the age of 60 rather than 65 since 1983, under then president Francois Mitterrand, a socialist.

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