SWITZERLAND - Swiss trade unions have warned that the government would propose raising the retirement age further to 67 years, if people vote in favour of changes to the state old age pension system.
Unions fear that by deliberately painting a dismal picture of the future of the pensions system, the government was trying to force voters into accepting the proposed changes to the first pillar. And once the reforms were through, “harsher” reforms would be introduced.
Switzerland’s largest trade union the Schweizerischer Gewerkschaftsbund has blasted the government, accusing it of using “ideological domination” in a bid to push through the “unpopular” pension changes.
On May 16, voters have their say on the proposed pension changes which include raising the retirement age for women to 65 (currently they retire at 64), linking the pensions to the wages and inflation for every three years instead of two and changes to the pension benefits for widows.
Collette Nova of the Schweizerischer Gewerkschaftsbund said: “This is ideological domination. For years, the government has been painting a pessimistic picture of our pensions system and they have consistently been proven wrong. But this is undermining the trust that people put in the system.
“The proposed changes to the system of benefits for widows are not very sensible. Around 50,000 women stand to lose their benefits or get lower benefits. It’s not right to weaken the first pillar. ”
She said that union was actively campaigning to urge voters not to accept the proposed changes and had garnered one hundred thousand signatures, in a matter of days, opposing the move.
Urs Rellstab of EconomieSuisse, the Swiss Business Federation said: “It is essential to have reforms to the first pillar. There is a demographic shift and we have more elderly people living longer. It is clear that the pension system has to be moderately changed. The system has to be stable to support our pensioners and this is a step in the right direction.”
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