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Trade Union News from Finland

Only one in six support the idea of raising the retirement age

Helsinki (29.12.2012 - Juhani Artto) The employer stronghold EK urges that the retirement age be raised but a large majority of citizens oppose EK's proposals on the matter in question. Once again this has been confirmed by the results of the opinion poll Yle published on Wednesday.

According to the poll, only 16 per cent of Finns support the idea of raising the lower limit of the retirement age. It is now 63 while the upper limit is 68. The trade unions are also opposed to proposals on raising the lower limit of the retirement age.

Unions believe that people would voluntarily choose to retire later if working conditions could be developed in ways that are more conducive and less damaging to people's health. Employers should apply themselves to working towards this goal more energetically, the unions insist. The same remedy would prove effective when considering how to lower the high number of people who become disability pensioners annually.

Statistics on people who retired last year speak strongly for the trade union movement’s position on this issue. Of the almost 71,200 people who retired over 25,000 were new disability pensioners. More than half of these were below 55-years of age. The number of new disability pensioners has been fairly stable throughout the 2000s. A significant reduction in the number of disability pensions could be achieved by seeking to eliminate or limit the very factors that give rise to disability at workplaces, the unions say.

When it comes to the lower limit of the ordinary old-age pension, 63, an overwhelming majority of people retire when they have reach 63 years of age or soon after it. Last year only 2,275 people were over 66 years of age when they retired. The number of retiring 66-year-old people was less than 1,800 and the number of retiring 65-year-old people slightly over 6,500.

These figures clearly indicate that the right to retire between the ages of 63 and 68 does not effectively lead to later retirement. The legislation that created this from 63 to 68 retirement corridor has been in force since 2005. The unions insist that many people would retire later if they were offered jobs that were attractive to them. Studies indicate that old people appreciate, for example, flexible working hours.