Fórsa and other unions have again raised the plight of staff forced to retire at age 65. Since the State pension qualification age was increased to 66, they have to sign on for social welfare benefits worth less than the State pension, and declare themselves available for work.
At a recent meeting with civil service management, unions gave examples of recent retirees, with 40 years’ service, who were required to claim supplementary allowance – and confirm that they were actively seeking employment during their retirement.
Unions called on the Department of Expenditure and Public Reform to act. But the department refused, saying it was a matter for the Department of Employment and Social Protection. They only said they would consider updating information on the cspensions.ie website, which gives information to prospective retirees.
The change in the qualification age for the State pension – and plans to further increase the bar to age 67 next January – emerged as a substantial issue in the recent general election. A number of political parties pledged permanent or temporary measures to address it.
Fórsa and other unions had slammed Government plans to further increase the state pension qualifying age to 67 next January and to 68 in 2028.
ICTU general secretary Patricia King rejected as “wholly unacceptable” Government claims that a reversal of the policy – which would leave Ireland with the highest state pension qualifying age in the EU – was unaffordable.
Siptu economist Michael Taft said the €217 million cost of reversing the pension age increase could be financed from the existing social insurance fund, which is currently running a surplus of €1.4 billion a year.
“The reality is that, in the short term, there would be no need to increase taxation, cut spending or borrow to finance the cancellation of the pension age increase,” he said.