January 10, 2007
The government has rejected a proposal by Switzerland’s
main union lobby (SGB) to lower the retirement age to 62 for middle-class workers, calling it
unrealistic and too costly.
In recent weeks, the
has twice proposed that workers with annual incomes of up to CHF119,340
(€73,970) should be permitted to retire at 62. Currently, the legal
retirement age is 65 for men and 64 for women.
“Our proposal aims to provide older
workers with a dignified exit from the labour market. These workers are
either not as robust as they were for health reasons or are no longer
wanted in the labour market,” commented
general secretary Colette Nova.
But, citing demographic trends, the
Swiss interior ministry rejected Nova’s proposal. “People are actually
reaching the legal retirement age in good health while the birth rate is
declining. One consequence of this is that there are fewer workers
supporting pensioners,” the ministry said.
Another demographics-related problem,
the ministry said, was that if workers retired too early, the Swiss
economy would lose qualified staff that could not be replaced quickly.
The interior ministry further said
the proposal was unworkable as it would raise costs on the state pension
scheme. The costs were put at around one billion Swiss francs annually.
acknowledged that its proposal would raise costs on the scheme, but said
they were manageable. “The costs represent between 2.3% and 3.7% of
revenue taken in by the scheme, so we’re not talking about an enormous
sum,” Nova said.
also said it was hypocritical of the government to argue against its
proposal for cost reasons but at the same time cut corporate taxes. The
estimates that the proposed tax cuts will cause a shortfall of several
hundred million Swiss francs for the state pension scheme.
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