Opposition MPs launched a strong attack on the cabinet’s plans to increase the state pension age from 65 to 67 during a parliamentary debate on Thursday.
In particular, ministers’ decision to force employers to find other jobs for people who have done ‘heavy work’ for 30 years came under fire.
The Liberals are not opposed to the pension age increase in principle. However, the coalition has made a ‘monster’ out of the plan, Liberal leader Mark Rutte said. The move will deliver savings too late, is unfair, is unworkable when it comes to people who do heavy jobs and will have a drastic effect on employers, Rutte said.
The cabinet has agreed to increase the state and corporate pension age from 65 to 66 in 2020 and then to 67 in 2027. They also plan to make it easier for people who do ‘heavy work’ to still retire at 65 or be given new, lighter duties by their employers.
The VVD suggests that everyone who has earned at least 70% of the minimum wage for 40 years should still be allowed to retire at 65. This would get around the problem of how to cope with people who have done hard physical labour and cannot work any longer, Rutte said.
Alexander Pechtold, leader of the Liberal democratic party D66, said it would probably be impossible to define the concept of ‘heavy work’.
Femke Halsema, leader of the left-wing greens Groenlinks also supports the increase in principle. But she sided with the Liberals’ 40-year plan and dismissed the cabinet’s proposals as a ‘political patchwork’.
The Socialists and anti-Islam PVV both support the current 65-year retirement age. The PVV came under attack from other parties for saying an end to migration from Muslim countries would produce enough cost savings to eliminate the need to raise the state pension age.
According to the Financieele Dagblad, Labour’s parliamentary leader Mariette Hamer said the party is prepared to drop the heavy work clause if it proves to be unworkable. ‘ But we will come up with something else,’ she was quoted as saying. ‘ Employers must take responsibility for their workers’ careers.’
The debate is set to continue into the evening.
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