Several trade unions spoke out against calls to raise the legal retirement age as life expectancy in the country increases, with one group accusing its proponent of “social Darwinism.”
“People do not remain in good health until their final days,” Marc Leemans, head of the CSC confederation of Christian unions said. “The N-VA has a Darwinist vision of society, and sides with the strongest,” he added, referring to nationalist Flemish party Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie.
N-VA leader Bart De Wever on Tuesday said raising the legal retirement age would be the only way of keeping Belgium’s pension system sustainable, as people in the country lived longer.
“Average life expectancy for less-educated people is lower, and those who work in difficult conditions or who have no supplementary pension plans will end up suffering the most,” Leemans said.
Socialist trade unions also came out against the proposal, arguing that the legal retirement age in the country (65) was already higher than the age at which people were expected to live healthily.
“Indicators for life expectancy in good health [in Belgium] are 63.5 years for men, and 64.1 years for women,” federal secretary of socialist FGTB union Raf De Weert said, adding that, for less-educated people, the number dropped below 64 years of age.
The head of the Christian unions pointed to a recent pension reform in the Netherlands, arguing that such a move would not be sustainable in Belgium, and citing an increase in long-term disease in the country.
“With the liberal government” in the Netherlands, Dutch citizens “who are 18 years-old today will work until they are 71,3,” he said.
“Those who want to work after they are 67 should vote for the N-VA on May 26,” a representative of the CGSLB confederation of liberal trade unions said, criticising the Flemish nationalist party for having “no plan” when it came to pensions, but continuing to favour policies that brought down businesses” expenses.