Finland debates retirement age

workThe ongoing debate on pension talks in Finland continues to stall; with representatives from employer-guilds and unions unable to reach an agreement over a proposal to extend the statutory retirement age.

Due this week is a report on the working group’s findings into the debate–which has been marred by constant disagreement over several key issues. Amongst these are the inability to agree on the motion to extend the statutory retirement age in Finland by an additional three years. Employers have attempted to move the existing age of retirement from 63 to 66 while union leaders have firmly rejected any proposed increases.

YLE reports that employers have also requested that the government discontinue income-related unemployment benefits for those who have been made redundant at 58 or later. This benefit has seen some employees able to claim early retirement prior to reaching the statutory retirement age and therefore claim early benefits before they reach 63. In their defence, unions claim that employers are themselves to blame for releasing older staff first.

The recent talks have been described by both sides as ‘difficult’, but each has also been keen to stress that they are working towards a resolution. White-collar union the STTK and the Confederation of Finnish Industries remain pessimistic over any immediate outcome.

Just last week Finnish Finance Minister Jyrki Katainen and Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen openly encouraged both sides to work closer together to reach an agreement on working life and pension reform ahead of scheduled meetings with leaders. The government has expressed a desire to keep people employed for longer, primarily to counter the increasing costs to the Finnish state of an ageing population. The government created the working group last spring to bring about a consensus after announcing its plans for the increase.

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