French pension law nears adoption

Despite weeks of protests and strikes that have hit railways and refineries hardest, the flagship reform of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s term is expected to be finally adopted by Wednesday.

On the first day of a 12-day mid-term school holiday, Transport Minister Dominique Bussereau assured motorists highway service stations were well stocked but acknowledged shortages elsewhere.

“More and more stations will be getting supplies,” he said on Europe 1 radio. The state railway company SNCF, where rolling strikes have reduced services by as much as 50 per cent, announced improved frequency on high-speed links — eight in 10 trains running — for the holiday rush but said many other services would be between 50 and 60 per cent of normal levels.

Sarkozy and his centre-right government have refused to back down on a bill seeking to plug a hole in pension funding by raising the minimum retirement age to 62 from 60 and raising the age at which people qualify for a full pension to 67 from 65.

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