Government plans to increase the State pension age to 68 will place Ireland’s retirement age among the highest in the world, according to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU).
The pension age, which was raised from 65 to 66 in 2014, is set to increase to 67 in 2021 and 68 in 2028.
ICTU social policy officer Laura Bambrick criticised the plans as the Government launched a public consultation on State pension reform. “While increases in the pension age are taking place in many countries, Ireland is currently on course to have the highest pension age in the OECD,” she said.
ICTU has called on the Government to abandon the plan. Its general secretary Patricia King said the Government’s pension blueprint took no account of people “who cannot work between retirement and qualifying for the State pension.”
Unions also criticised Government plans to change the way pension entitlements are assessed, saying it meant a worker would need 40 years’ social insurance contributions to qualify for a full State pension.
“A 40-year target fails to take into account the impact of legacy issues still evident in the contribution records of workers nearing pension age,” said Bambrick.
Fórsa is working with other unions on a joint submission to the official consultation. Last month, the union’s national conference backed calls for mandatory employment-based pension provision for all workers not currently covered by occupational pension schemes.
A Government paper called A Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018-2023 envisages the introduction of auto-enrolment – or compulsory pension contributions for all – from 2020. But Fórsa has criticised opt-out rules contained in the paper.
The union’s national secretary Billy Hannigan said Ireland was one of only two OECD countries with no mandatory earnings-related pillar to complement the State pension. He said employers should contribute twice the amount asked of workers.