Pension campaigners have expressed disappointment at the composition of a new Pension Commission, saying its membership doesn’t reflect the interests of those most affected by a proposed increase in the age at which workers become eligible for the State pension.
The commission has been established by Government to review the issue. The programme for government said the pension age would be maintained at 66, pending the completion of the Commission's work. The previous Government had plans to increase the age of retirement to 67 next year, and to 68 in 2028.
The STOP67 coalition, which includes Siptu, the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI), and organisations representing pensioners and older people, mounted an effective general election campaign against the proposed pension age increase to 67 from next January.
NWCI director Orla O’Connor said women experienced deep pension inequalities as they are more likely to be in low-paid jobs, and the value of their pensions is reduced when they spend time out of the workforce because of caring responsibilities.
“It is difficult [for them] to collect sufficient PRSI contributions to be eligible for the full State contributory pension and so they are more likely to be reliant on the non-contributory pension. Pension policy is absolutely crucial for women’s equality and has an enormous impact on women’s access to an independent income in old age,” she said.
SIPTU deputy general secretary Ethel Buckley welcome the invitation to ICTU to nominate a member to the commission. “However, the balance of its membership does not reflect the interests of those directly affected by the proposed increase in the pension age. Nor does it reflect the interests of those workers who rely entirely on the state pension for their retirement income,” she said.