MPs will today finally debate the government’s plans to increase the state pension age from 65 to 67 with both the prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende and finance minister Wouter Bos.
The debate should have been held last week but was delayed because MPs were angry that the two ministers refused to attend.
Unions are set to hold a demonstration against the increase outside parliament.
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.
MPs are divided on the age increase. The two liberal parties and left-wing greens GroenLinks support the rise in principle but are very criticial of the way the government plans to implement it.
Socialist and anti-Islam PVV MPs are opposed to the rise. Labour MPs are caught in the middle. Although part of the current coalition, many MPs are known to have their doubts, particularly about the effect on people who started work at a young age.
According to the Telegraaf, a majority of MPs also want the cabinet to come up with a plan to help freelancers, known as ZZP’ers, or one-man companies. Many people in the construction sector, for example, are freelancers and will have to carry on working until they reach 67 under the current plan.
In an interview in Thursday’s Telegraaf, VVD leader Mark Rutte pledged to make the pension age increase an election issue. The next general election is set for May 2011.
In particular, the plan to force employers to find alternative jobs for people who do physical labour will be impossible for small firms, he says.
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.
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