The [email protected] platform is certainly a great offer for some seniors. However, on closer inspection, it soon becomes apparent that both the participating seniors and the job offers that continuing to work after retirement is only an option for a limited proportion of pensioners. These tend to be more people with an academic background and/or “office jobs”. Bricklayers, garden designers, salespeople are in short supply. In addition, a distinction must be made between gainful employment and voluntary work.

It was workers' associations that formed the unions. This makes it clear that the trade unions are committed to working people. Nevertheless, employees who continue to work beyond the normal AHV age are not the focus of the unions. This is because our attention must first be given to those employees who cannot or are not allowed to work until normal retirement age. Reaching normal retirement age is a major challenge for many workers, especially in physically demanding jobs.

A study by unemployment insurance has shown that older employees often have great difficulty finding a new job, even though they have good training and qualifications. Even if they significantly lower their wage expectations.

The poorer benefits in the 2nd pillar are also the reason why the employment rate of 55 to 64 year olds has risen sharply.

The argument that older employees are too expensive cannot be accepted: According to a survey by the statistical office in Zurich, the wage trend for women up to around the age of 50 and for men up to the age of 55 has a positive effect on the Wage – after that it becomes negative – detailed evaluations of the wage calculator show a similar picture (

Despite these developments on the labor market, many employees would like to work at least until their regular retirement age, or would have to do so in order to earn a reasonably decent pension. However, the number of unemployed people over the age of 55 is steadily increasing. For this reason, the unions are demanding the following points:

  • Long-serving employees over the age of 50 should be given special protection against dismissals, as is already regulated in some of the collective employment agreements. This protection against dismissal also gives employers an incentive to take a better look at their staff (training and further education, health protection). Contrary to what is often claimed, this additional protection does not act as an obstacle to re-entry into the labor market. Because it is tied to the length of service and does not act as a deterrent to new hires.
  • Older unemployed people must have better chances of finding a job again. The obligation to register jobs decided by the National Council and the Council of States must now be implemented consistently so that older job seekers, who are currently disadvantaged, receive an advantage.
  • Employees (and the unemployed) should be given the right to a career assessment or career advice (e.g. from the age of 45). They should be able to count on more support with regard to training and further education, for example through additional offers and information measures in the sectors with collective employment agreements. The Confederation and the cantons must facilitate access to EFZ.

Parallel to the preventive measures mentioned, it is absolutely essential that the existing gaps in social security in the pre-retirement age are finally closed. Against this background, the Federal Council's proposal to introduce a bridging benefit for older unemployed people is an extremely important step and is very much welcomed by the trade unions.

It should be possible to work beyond the normal retirement age, but this should not result in financial or hierarchical pressure to the detriment of employees and the labor market. Under this premise, the trade unions advocate making the retirement age more flexible, provided that it is open and accessible to all employees. This means that people with medium and small incomes must also be able not to have to work longer, but to retire earlier.

Making the retirement age more flexible can create jobs, especially for younger people. It therefore makes little sense for people who would have been retired for 10 years to remain in their jobs. However, this also means that our occupational pension system enables everyone to continue to lead a life in dignity after they have reached their regular pension at the latest. Anyone who has not enjoyed a 2nd pillar for a working life and receives a minimum AHV pension can hardly speak of a dignified life. Such people - those affected by poverty in old age are primarily women - could be forced by financial hardship to continue working after retirement, although they can hardly physically manage to sit at a cash register for eight hours a day, for example. On the other hand, the transfer of know-how, especially company-specific, from experienced to younger employees is extremely valuable. The trade unions therefore also encourage employers to design internal succession regulations with cross-generational tandem solutions, eg also in job sharing with partial retirement models (if they can be financed). It would be desirable if the long-term effect of such models were weighted higher than is all too often the case with purely financial, short-term considerations.

Toya Krummenacher

President of the Basel Trade Union Confederation

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