Belgium’s three major unions are taking the government to court over the new retirement age of 67.
According to the joint action, the increase in the pension age is “a substantial move backwards from the right to social security as guaranteed in the constitution”. The new rules are also discriminatory, according to the unions, because of their particular effect on women. The retirement age for women was previously 60, while men retired at 65, which means that men now have to work only two years more than before, while women’s work period is increased by seven years.
“This measure was forced through out of pure ideology, without any analysis being done on either the social security system or on the people affected,” the unions argue. “Alternatives such as extra financing, although proposed by the expert commission, were never taken into consideration.”
The new regulations not only raised the standard pension age to 67, they also set a minimum number of 42 years worked for anyone wanting to take early retirement. That is substantially longer than the average 36.6 years worked by women. “Discrimination in the workplace is being ratified by the pension regulations,” the unions said. “Women get to pay twice over.”
The unions are calling for a “serious and global approach” to the pensions debate that “takes account of the reality”. That includes “a reasonable pension age, decent pensions for everyone and extra financing for social security.”