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Critics pounce on women's retirement plan

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Alain Berset (Photo: Swiss Federal Assembly)
10:13 CET+01:00
A new proposal by the home affairs minister, Alain Berset, to raise the retirement age for women in Switzerland as part of an overhaul of the country's social security system (AVS) is already meeting resistance.

Berset, a member of the Socialist party from Fribourg, on Wednesday announced plans to raise the retirement age to 65 from 64, while maintaining the retirement age for men at 65.

But the words were no sooner out of his mouth than fellow party members were calling down the idea.

“This is a catastrophe,” Cesla Amarelle, Socialist MP from the canton of Vaud, was quoted as saying by the Tamedia chain of newspapers.

“This project is going in the wrong direction,” Amarelle said.

“Out of the question for us to want to equalize the age for retirement at 65 years as long as women are subjected to wage discrimination.”

Berset had unveiled his proposal saying: “No abrupt changes are expected,” while adding that the goal is to guarantee the current level of social benefits.

Among the ways being considered to raise revenue to support the system is an increase in the value-added tax, a proposal that has met opposition from both the left and the right.

The idea of raising the retirement age for women follows on an earlier plan proposed by Berset’s predecessor Pascal Couchepin to increase the pensionable age for men to 67.

However, that proposal has been shelved because employer groups have made it clear they are not interested in dealing with a more elderly workforce.

The federal cabinet has asked Berset to return with a detailed package following a round of consultations over the next year.

The government is hoping for a plan to consolidate the social security system and to put it on a sound financial footing between now and 2020.

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