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Pension reform passes in parliament but set to be challenged to vote

The official retirement age for women will be put at 65 in line with that of men in Switzerland under the reform approved by parliament but opposed by trade unions and the political left. Keystone/Gaetan Bally

Parliament has approved a major reform of the Swiss pension system, including a controversial rise in the retirement age for women.

The overhaul also foresees financial compensation – staggered over nine years for women directly affected by the change – as well as an increase in value-added tax.

Both chambers of parliament on Wednesday agreed on a series of compromises, but left-wing political parties and trade unionsExternal link have vowed to challenge the reform in a nationwide vote.

They argue women have to bear the brunt of the reform as their official retirement age will be set at 65, in line with those of men but one year longer than under current rules.

Stabilise funding

The aim of the reformExternal link is to stabilise the finances of the mandatory pension scheme, funded through contributions by employers, employees and the state, amid a growing elderly population.

Supporters say the pension system could be in danger by 2030, if the funding is not put on a more solid basis.

Several attempts to adapt the system have failed at the ballot box over the past 30 years, notably in 2017.

At least three different people’s initiatives to shore up the pension system are pending.

The latest reform, due to come into force in 2023 at the earliest, is one of the key political projects of the current legislative term.

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