Opposition groups claim the proposed pension and retirement plan places a burden on workers  [EPA]

In June, the French government announced its aim to raise the legal age of retirement from 60 to 62 in a measure that could come into effect by 2018.

The pension reform bill, which has already been passed by the country's lower house of parliament, will also be debated by the upper house - the Senate - where it is expected to pass.

As well as raising the retirement age, the government is also pushing for a plan to increase the number of work years needed in order to claim a full pension, from 40.5 years now to at least 41.5 in the year 2020.

According to figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), French workers can expect to spend more of their life in retirement than the citizens of any other European country.

'Unfair burden'

Under current rules, both men and women in France can retire at age 60, provided they have paid social security contributions for 40.5 years - although they are not entitled to a full pension until they are 65.

The government says it will save $96bn by raising the retirement age to 62, the qualification to 41.5 years, and the pension age to 67.

However, unions and opposition politicians say the plan puts an unfair burden on workers and the former unemployed who may struggle to hit the 41.5-year requirement.

They have made counter-proposals, including calls for taxes on certain bonuses and on the highest incomes to help fund the pension system.

Introduced by former president François Mitterrand in the 1980s, the current retirement age is viewed by members of the Socialist party as a symbol of left-wing social progress.

Source: Agencies