Protesters demand end to early retirement pension penalty

A rally took place on Saturday in Nicosia by members of trade unions and other organisations in favour of scrapping the 12 per cent penalty imposed on people who retire early aged 63.

Protesters marched from the Pasydy trade union’s building to the Presidential Palace where a petition was handed over.

The retirement age in Cyprus is currently 65.

Organisers said that the challenges currently faced because of the pandemic, “are factors that restore with even greater intensity society’s demand for the abolition of the unfair 12 per cent penalty in the social insurance pensions”.

They pointed to “the conditions created by the pandemic, the rise in unemployment and the inability of many workers to re-enter the workforce after a prolonged period of inactivity of entire economic sectors, the delay of the inclusion of young people in the workforce and the continuous interruptions in working life, the closure of many small and medium enterprises and the problems that have accumulated for many self-employed professionals.”

They called for the restoration of the right to full pensions, “under the existing conditions set by law to the 63rd year”.

Earlier in the day, head of Peo trade union Pambis Kyritsis told state broadcaster CyBC radio that there are professions – such as builders and ironworkers – who work 40 and 45 years, and who due to physical exertion, in their 60s are no longer able to work. As a result, he said, they receive a reduced pension, which is an injustice.

Sek trade union’s head, Andreas Matsas called for dialogue to resolve the matter. He said that according to his union, scrapping the 12 per cent penalty should not be linked only to physically stressful professions.

Earlier in the month, Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou said the demand to scrap the actuarial adjustment for early retirement was in reality “a demand to reduce the retirement age from 65 to 63 for the entire population”.

The minister had said the adjustment was wrongly referred to as a 12 per cent penalty on pensions because it was an adjustment depending on the time a person decided to collect their pension between 63 and 67. Since the age of normal retirement has been set by the government in 2012 as 65, legal provisions have been included so that for each month someone opts to collect their pension earlier, the pension is reduced by 0.5 per cent, she said.

Emilianidou added that the adjustment was enforced by the Akel administration in 2012, which also added provisions so that from 2023, the retirement age would rise by six months each year to gradually reach 67.

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