Paris: After 10 days of intense debate, the French Senate adopted the controversial reform to the country’s pension system, which was proposed by the government in January. The bill would raise the legal retirement age from 62 to 64 years.
The vote in the Senate, upper house of Parliament, dominated by ring-wing parties, was 195 in favour and 112 against, despite the discontent of French unions and millions of citizens, reports Xinhua news agency.
On March 15, a joint committee of seven senators and seven members of the National Assembly, lower house of Parliament, will attempt to obtain a compromise between the chambers concerning the articles over which they still have differences.
If the joint committee reaches an agreement on Wednesday, the draft bill would again need to be validated by the Senate and the National Assembly on Thursday.
Once the National Assembly, where the government does not hold an absolute majority, passes the draft bill, the pension reform would be definitively approved by the French Parliament.
If the committee fails to reach a consensus on the final text of the draft bill, the two chambers would continue the debate.
However, a vote would have to be held before March 26.
On March 12, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne gathered her ministers to “prepare the next steps in order to complete the democratic process until the text is voted on”.
On Wednesday, French unions plan to hold a further day of nationwide strikes to put pressure on the deputies.
Services, including trains and urban public transport, will again be disrupted.
The disruption is expected to be relatively minor in the Ile-de-France region centred on Paris, but the express trains connecting the capital city and its suburbs would be “very disrupted,” the public transport operator RATP said on its website.
The country’s national railway company SNCF said that only three out of five rapid trains and two out of five inter-city trains would be operated on Wednesday, while rail traffic in Ile-de-France will be “particularly” disrupted.
The air traffic authorities have ordered airlines to cancel 20 per cent of their flights leaving Paris Orly Airport on Wednesday.
Workers in the sectors of energy, education and ports are all going on strike as called for by France’s largest union, the General Confederation of Labor (CGT).
But the French, especially the Parisians, are facing a more prominent problem — garbage collectors have already been on strike for a week in Paris and several other cities across the country, and they plan to continue their labour action until March 20.
By Monday, 5,600 tonnes of garbage remained uncollected in the capital, according to the city hall.
Prime Minister Borne laid out details of the pension reform plan in January, under which the legal retirement age would be progressively raised by three months a year from 62 to 64 by 2030, and a guaranteed minimum pension would be introduced.
Under the plan, as of 2027, at least 43 years of work would be required to be eligible for a full pension.
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