Switzerland raises women’s retirement age to 65

The Swiss have agreed to a controversial plan for pension reform, which would raise women’s retirement age to 65, the same as men’s.

In a referendum on September 25 on the government’s pension reform plan, 50.7% of Swiss people voted in favor, meaning the country’s pension system will be revised for the first time. after more than 25 years.

Accordingly, Switzerland will increase the retirement age of women by one year, meaning that female workers will have to work until the age of 65 to receive the same pension as men. This result was approved after two failed referendums in 2004 and 2007.

Switzerland has long argued that it is necessary to “stabilize” the country’s old-age security system, under pressure to increase life expectancy and the generation born during the population boom has now reached retirement age.





A propaganda poster against the plan to raise the retirement age of Swiss women.  Photo: AFP

A propaganda poster against the plan to raise the retirement age of Swiss women. Image: AFP

Another referendum on increasing the pension budget through a sales tax increase passed with 55% in favor.

Last year, the Swiss parliament passed these pension and pension age policies, facing opposition from left-wing parties and trade unions. They criticized the reform plan as “exploiting women” and demanded a referendum.

Proponents of the reform argue that it is reasonable for men and women to retire at the same age. Celine Amadruz, vice-president of the populist Swiss People’s party, hailed the vote as a “first step towards sustainability” for the old-age security system.

But opponents have reacted furiously to the pension reform plan. The Swiss Socialist Party announced it would protest in Bern on September 26, warning that the plan to raise the retirement age would significantly cut women’s already meager pension income.

“Women’s pension income will fall by 7 billion Swiss francs ($7.1 billion) over the next 10 years. This is a slap in the face to women,” the organization said in a statement.

Opponents argue that women in Switzerland, who face gender discrimination and large wage disparities compared to men, should receive much lower pensions. Therefore, they argue that the government should prioritize solving this problem first, not increasing the retirement age.

According to the Swiss Ministry of Economy, in 2020, women will receive an average pension nearly 35% less than men. Polls ahead of the referendum date showed deep divisions between the sexes, with 70% of men polled in favor of raising women’s retirement age, but nearly 60% of women opposed.

The voting results on September 25 also showed significant divisions among localities. While the German-speaking regions were in full support of the reform, the French- and Italian-speaking regions were strongly opposed, with nearly 63% of Geneva voters voting “no” and the state of Jura over 70%.

Pierre-Yves Maillard, head of the Swiss Union of Trade Unions, warned of deep divisions between the sexes and localities over such an important issue “not good political signal”.

“It will have consequences,” he said.

Another controversial issue in the referendum was that the proposal to ban intensive cattle farming was rejected by voters. The proposal was put forward by animal rights organizations, but more than 63% of voters voted against it.

Proponents of the initiative want stricter minimum regulations on keeping and caring for animals, as well as stricter slaughter procedures, which would mean a ban on intensive livestock farming.

The government and parliament oppose the initiative, arguing that Switzerland has one of the strictest animal welfare regulations in the world and that further tightening would raise prices significantly.

Hong Hanh (Theo AFP)

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