SIPTU calls on Programme for Government negotiators to stop pension age increase

SIPTU representatives have called on Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party to ensure that the deferral of the planned pension age increase to 67 next year is included in any agreed Programme for Government.

SIPTU research, Michal Taft said: “The campaign to stop the increase in the pension age to 67 next year and to establish a Stakeholders Forum to examine the future of our pension system won the support of many voters in the general election earlier this year. During their canvassing, politicians heard the message on the doorsteps and most of the political parties agreed, at the very least, to defer the age increase pending a review.

“In recent weeks, the Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, indicated that he had agreed to the deferral of the pension age increase with An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, in their early discussions on government formation. Fine Gael has declined to confirm this version of events. The Green Party has stated consistently that it supports the demands of the STOP67 campaign, notwithstanding speculation that changed economic circumstances mean the age should increase next year, as planned.

“The reason the issue came to the fore during the election campaign was because of the inequities that have emerged with the pension age transition from 65 to 66, in recent years. This meant people aged 65 being forced on to unemployment payments while awaiting their pension entitlements. It has unfairly subjected people who have worked all their lives and contributed to their pensions being means tested for unemployment payments.

“Absurdly, retired people have been refused payments because they are not available for work. In many cases, older people have received no income at all during the transition period due to the anomalies that have arisen. Raising the age to 67 next year will only deepen the inequities involved. These are among the reasons why all political parties on the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Social Protection, in 2017, recommended that the pension age increase be suspended.”

SIPTU Deputy General Secretary, Ethel Buckley, added: “As we know, the Covid-19 crisis has disproportionately affected older people. To use the crisis as a further reason to damage the quality of life of those who have contributed so much to society through their working lives, and paid into the social insurance fund, is inhumane and unacceptable. To ignore the views of so many of those people who voted against the pension age increase, is insulting and undemocratic.

“A Stakeholder Forum, involving trade unions, civic society organisations, employers and government can address these anomalies and inequities and develop a more sustainable state pension system, which also takes into account economic realities.”

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