Unions set sights on flexible retirement age

The unions are trying to put a flexible retirement age on track Keystone

Switzerland’s trade unions are pushing for the introduction of a flexible retirement age beginning at 62.

This content was published on May 9, 2005 - 14:21

On Monday they accused the government and parliament of failing to resolve a long-standing political issue.

Delegates of the Swiss Federation of Trade Unions have now launched a people’s initiative aimed at introducing a flexible retirement age.

Under the proposal, employees can choose to stop working at the age of 62 and receive a full pension.

It would also allow people to stagger their retirement age. The plan would cost up to SFr1 billion ($0.8 billion) annually.

High salary earners would see their pensions reduced if they decide to stop working before the regular retirement age.

Federation president Paul Rechsteiner said the unions had to take the lead on this major political issue because the government and parliament had shown themselves unable to come up with viable solutions.

Three previous attempts to introduce a flexible retirement age have failed at the ballot box over the past 15 years.

Draining finances

The unions have 18 months to collect the necessary number of signatures in order to force a nationwide vote.

This latest trade union proposal comes amid continuing discussions over ways to secure the funding of the compulsory state-run pension scheme. The Employers’ Association last year called for the retirement age to be raised to 66 to cover pension costs and spur economic growth.

There are concerns that the system is collapsing as the number of pensioners grows while the number of contributors decreases.

The state old-age pension scheme, which is part of a three-tier social security system, is financed partly by contributions from employees and employers and other tax revenues.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The retirement age for men in Switzerland is 65, while women are entitled to an old-age pension at 64.
Voters in 2004 turned down a plan to raise the retirement age for women to 65.
A proposal by the interior minister, Pascal Couchepin, to introduce a retirement age of 67 caused a public outcry. He later withdrew the plan.

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