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Sarkozy Plan to Raise Pension Age Can’t Be Altered, Woerth Says

July 20 (Bloomberg) -- French President Nicolas Sarkozy won’t accept changes to his plan to raise the retirement age or balance the pension system’s accounts by 2018, Labor Minister Eric Woerth said as parliament starts debate on the measure.

The government is open to changes to better protect workers in hardship jobs, Woerth, who is Sarkozy’s point man on the proposal, said in an interview on Europe1 radio.

“It can’t be amended on its essentials,” Woerth said. “But we can work on solutions for arduous jobs.’

The bill would increase the retirement age to 62 from 60, while maintaining retirement at 60 for people who started work particularly young, or whose strenuous jobs can’t be carried out by people in their 60s. The bill calls for such cases to be determined on an individual basis, while unions want whole categories of jobs to be eligible for early retirement.

The opposition Socialist Party will propose 150 amendments, Marisol Touraine, a Socialist lawmaker, said in an interview with Les Echos. The opposition wants to keep the retirement age at 60 and plug gaps in the system’s accounts through new taxes.

Sarkozy said last week he expects parliamentary approval by the end of October.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gregory Viscusi in Paris at gviscusi@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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