Raising the retirement age in an attempt to ensure the pension system remains sustainable as life expectancy grows is “unfair and ineffectual,” ETUC leaders said today as they launched a fightback against the policy.
The ETUC launched a push for fair pensions at a two-day conference in Croatia, where the government recently raised the legal retirement age from 65 to 67 only to be forced into a u-turn by trade unions who gathered over double the number of signatures required for a referendum on the issue.
Speaking at a press conference in Zagreb, ETUC General Secretary Luca Visentini said:
“Croatia is at the forefront of the battle for fair pensions, which is why we’re here to show solidarity with our trade union affiliates. We need to continue this struggle to make sure that all workers in Croatia and Europe are able to benefit from fair and just social protection and pension systems. We need binding rules from the European level which stop governments pursuing regressive and discriminatory pension reforms.”
Raising the retirement age has been shown to exacerbate social inequalities as well as being ineffective at generating the extra contributions needed to sustain the pension system.
The ETUC is proposing policies which can make the system genuinely sustainable:
- Ensuring people contribute consistently throughout their working lives by active labour market policies which increase employment and maintain it by ensuring workers have secure contracts
- Ensuring pension contributions are at a sustainable level by raising wages through collective bargaining
- Ensuring everyone pays into the pension and social security system by tackling tax evasion
ETUC Confederal Secretary Liina Carr, who is responsible for social protection, said:
“Raising the legal retirement age is a simplistic, unfair and ineffectual solution to pensions. Just increasing the retirement age is not going to help to make the pension system sustainable fiscally or in social terms. Rather than shifting the burden to workers, governments should increase contributions by increasing secure employment, raising wages and tackling tax evasion.”