Left organizations and trade unions protest plan to raise retirement age of Swiss working women

In June, the Swiss Federal parliament agreed to raise the retirement age of women to 65 from 64. This is in a country where an 8% wage gap exists between men and women with equal qualifications, and the latter receive one-third less the retirement benefits that their male counterparts get

September 21, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
From the mobilisation in Bern (Image via Grève des femmes, Grève feministe)

On Saturday, September 18, feminist groups, trade unions, youth organizations and political parties in Switzerland joined a massive mobilization in Bern protesting the controversial pension reforms proposed by the government. The reforms propose to raise the retirement age of Swiss working women from 64 to 65. Groups including the Women’s Strike Feminist Strike, Swiss Trade Union Federation, Swiss Party of Labor, Communist Party, Jeunes POP Suisse and Communist Youth participated in the march which was attended by more than 15,000 people. The protesters rejected the government’s plan to raise the retirement age of women and also announced their plan to go for a national referendum on the issue.

In June, the Swiss Federal parliament agreed to raise the retirement age of women to 65, despite opposition from the MPs from the left and Greens. According to reports, the increase in retirement age for women would take place in four stages of three months each between 2024 and 2027.

The current, statutory retirement age in Switzerland is 64 for women and 65 for men. A wage gap of 8% persists between men and women with equal qualifications in the country. The protesters have alleged that lower wages, part-time work and unpaid work have led to extremely poor working conditions for women. They also receive one-third less in retirement benefits than men.

Towards the mobilization, the Women’s Strike Feminist Strike group stated that “the National Council adopted the increase in women’s retirement age to 65 on the pretext of equality. The reform includes no compensation, but only transitional measures to alleviate the shock for women workers who are over 59 years old today. Still today, inequalities affect women of all generations. Using the equality argument to force us to work another year is unacceptable!”

Gabriela Medici of the Swiss Trade Union Federation told the media that “We are in a situation where Parliament seems to believe that the compensation announced will be enough to pass the pill of this increase in the retirement age. But the measures cannot hide the facts: the situation of women is deteriorating with the increase in the retirement age”.