French Parliament Approves Raising Retirement Age, Despite Striking Workers


France's Parliament approved raising the country's retirement age from 60 to 62 in a move that supporters say may preserve the country's pension system, but which has also triggered nationwide strikes and labor unrest, the Associated Press reported.

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The National Assembly approved the measure by about a 3-to-2 margin, giving President Nicolas Sarkozy, a conservative, the authority to sign the bill, according to the wire service. Sarkozy's support of the measure has dropped his approval rating to its lowest point in the three years he's been in office, AP reported.

A wide range of unions have launched strikes in response to the bill, shutting down much of France's airline and train services and causing a fuel shortage because of halted port operations, according to the AP.

Socialist leaders have rallied to keep the retirement age at 60, while supporters of the new bill say longer lifespans will put the pension system in jeopardy unless the retirement age is increased, the wire service said. Earlier this week, the AP reported that strikes were costing the French economy more than a half-billion dollars per day.