Vanhanen heavily criticised in Parliament over retirement age
PM: Rising life expectancy will also affect farmers’ benefits
The Parliamentary opposition wants the government to cancel its decision to raise the retirement age, and to start negotiations with labour market organisations from a clean slate, with the aim of drawing up ways to keep people at work longer.
On Thursday, Members of Parliament grilled Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen (Centre) over the plan to raise the minimum retirement age from the present 63 to 65 years of age.
Vanhanen did not succumb to the pressure. He was not upset by the deep concern expressed by Left Alliance MP Martti Korhonen on the danger to social peace, nor was he worried about complaints by Tarja Filatov (SDP) about a forced settlement.
Vanhanen showed no remorse, in spite of a direct appeal by leaders of the Christian Democratic Party.
Päivi Räsänen asked the Prime Minister how he intends to get out of the impasse. Bjarne Kallis asked him point-blank what he would lose if he relented on the issue.
Vanhanen did not mention the possibility of the government going back on its decision. He insisted that negotiations with labour market organisations will continue next week, and he named the government’s decision a “proposal”.
Filatov asked what kind of negotiations begin at their end result.
Vanhanen dismissed demands by Social Democrat Liisa Jaakonsaari that the negotiations should be held on the basis of a “commonly approved goal” - the lengthening of working careers - as “playing with words”.
Speculation among the parties of the left was that the government is endangering the upcoming round of incomes talks.
The ministers would not respond to this accusation either.
The opposition latched onto the observation that alongside the very specific and detailed decision on pensions, the government’s position paper from last week contains only some very general nods in the direction of promoting coping at work.
The proposals should come from the committee on reforming social security. The committee is split so far, as the labour side is boycotting the discussions because of the dispute over retirement.
There were no precise answers from the government on this. At its most vague, the government’s position was stated by Minister of Labour Tarja Cronberg (Green) as that of “spreading good practice”.
One thing that was made clear was that the lengthening of life expectancy should “with time” also affect the pension benefits of agricultural entrepreneurs, who currently can retire already at the age of 56, as they pass on the farm to the next generation.
More on this subject:
Poll: rise in retirement age sparks anger, but is no surprise
Previously in HS International Edition:
Government decides on gradual raising of minimum age for old-age pension to 65 (25.2.2009)
Dispute over retirement age unresolved after talks between PM and union federations (5.3.2009)
Dr. Kari Puro does not expect raised retirement age to affect real age of retirement (4.3.2009)