Bill seeks to halt increase in women’s retirement age

Twenty-eight MKs mobilize against Finance Ministry initiative aimed at bringing women’s retirement age in line with men’s.

By
July 10, 2011 01:35
3 minute read.
Tzipi Hotovely

Tzipi Hotovely 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

A bill to halt a Finance Ministry recommendation to increase the age of retirement for women from 62 to 67 over the next 15 years will be presented Sunday to the Ministerial Committee on Legislation by MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) and 28 other Knesset members from across the political spectrum.

“We cannot allow women, who work in some of the worst jobs in the market, to bury themselves in these jobs longer than necessary,” Hotovely, chairwoman of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women, wrote in a press statement Friday. “That is why we are creating this law in order to keep the retirement age at 62.

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“The right to retire is no less important than the right to work,” added the MK, who drafted the legislation together with a coalition of women’s and human rights groups including Na’amat, Women’s International Zionist Organization, Mahut Center, Itach, the Israel Women’s Network, the Adva Center and the Association of Civil Rights in Israel.

According to these groups, women still constitute the weakest sector in the workforce and those over the age of 50 face serious problems finding jobs that pay more than minimum wage. Forcing them to wait longer until they can retire means they will have to spend more years in low-earning jobs.

“The status of women and equality in the work place is still far from what it should be,” Hotovely wrote.

“Therefore, postponing the right to a pension, without offering a creative employment solution to address gender inequality, will only lead to an increase in the number of women living in poverty.”

While the full series of recommendations made by Finance Ministry Budget Director Udi Nissan, who headed the special commission charged with exploring the issue, have not yet been released, a spokeswoman at the ministry explained last week that the goal was to raise the retirement age for women gradually from its present level of 62 to 64 by 2017 and to 67 in 2026, with the goal of bringing it in line with men.

She said it was part of a natural progression in keeping with longer life expectancy rates and the need to find additional resources to support that extra time, and she pointed out that the recommendations also include a plan to encourage employment for people in their more advanced years, with an emphasis on women.

However, since Nissan presented Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz with these recommendations just over a week ago, women’s rights activists, including numerous ministers and Knesset members, have banded together to protest the suggestions.

Dorit Abramovitch, coordinator of the Coalition for Organizations against Raising the Women’s Retirement Age in Israel, said in an interview last week that today there is widespread discrimination against women aged 45-50 and up, with many women being laid off when they reach middle age.

Afterwards women struggle to find alternative employment and often take on work in the service industry, which pays little more than the minimum wage, she said.

“Retirement age today is 62, which is optional. If a woman has a successful career, then she is likely to continue working until 67 but roughly 50 percent of women want to retire at the age of 62 and start receiving their state pension,” Abramovitch said.

Minister of Culture and Sport Limor Livnat, who also chairs the Ministerial Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women, also criticized the recommendations and said that the main goal of the treasury was “only to save money for state pension funds and not to consider the overall problems facing women in the workforce.”

During a hearing of her committee last week, Livnat pointed out that only four women out of 12 were present on the treasury committee, and that is also an injustice.

Vered Swid, the prime minister’s adviser on issues connected to the status of women, who was one of the four women involved in drafting the recommendations, also spoke out last week saying she disagreed with increasing the retirement age for women.

“There is great discrimination against women in the labor market, including in the civil service, and those who will be hurt most by this move are the women from the most disadvantaged populations,” she said.


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