Pension age hike – No to private pension scam!

“The obscene notion of people being forced to work, particularly in physically or mentally stressful jobs, until the age of 68 before they can retire is an obscenity. Mary Hanafin complains that we are living too long. Well there is no better way to shorten the lives of building workers, teachers and so on than prolonging their working lives” – Joe Higgins MEP.
The government’s decision to increase the retirement age to 68 and to force workers into taking out private pensions is a major boost for the profits of the multinational insurance corporations. This is a scandal of the highest order.
The fact that people are living longer is something to be celebrated. It should mean a longer life, post retirement with money in your pocket and the freedom to do all the things you never had time to do before. But for Fianna Fail and the Greens it’s an opportunity from which profit can be made.
As part of its neo-liberal agenda, the government is handing over profitable sections of the public sector to big business.  Now it is beginning the process of privatising state pensions. Mary Hanafin said that the government would “endeavour” to maintain the state pension at 35% of average wages. Yet the state pension is too low as it is and the government has already failed to increase it to its own target of 40%.
Fianna Fail and the Greens can’t be trusted to maintain the state pension and just as they tried to remove the medical card for over 70s, they will try to cut the pension in years to come. This option will be made all the easier by the existence of the mandatory private pension. The argument will be put forward by whichever right wing party is in government that the state cannot “afford” to pay for pensions and mandatory private pension contributions will have to increased.
The pension companies are rubbing their hands in glee at this gift. However, no worker is guaranteed to receive a decent pension when they retire. Your private pension payments will be left at the mercy of the casino stock exchange. Workers at Waterford Crystal and SR Technics learnt the hard way when they were left with nothing after decades of pension payments. There isn’t even a pension protection scheme in this country.
According to the umbrella group, Older and Bolder “With real losses of 37.5% in 2008, Irish private pensions were the worst performing in the 30 OECD countries”. IBEC’s director, Brendan McGinty, ironically exposed this shift towards private pensions as a potentially disastrous move when he said “market losses in 2008 were particularly savage…this has meant that the majority of defined benefit schemes are currently insolvent.” This is the potential future for all workers if the government is allowed to get away with this change – a pension-less impoverished retirement!
In a socialist society, where the wealth would be controlled by the majority and utilised for the betterment of all, it would be possible to lower the retirement age and guarantee people a decent quality of life, based on a state pension.
In France, similar proposals to increase the retirement age were met with general strikes and a mass movement that defeated and brought down the government. The trade unions should mobilise every worker in the country into a similar campaign, which should include strike action to defeat the Irish governments’ proposals.
After decades of working and contributing to society, all workers deserve a long retirement on a decent pension, free from financial worry. The government’s pension privatisation agenda threatens to impoverish millions in their old age and must be fought and defeated.