Knesset not likely to raise women’s retirement age

A number of MKs, from both the opposition and the coalition, have drafted legislation to freeze women’s retirement age at 62.

By
November 16, 2011 06:37
2 minute read.
Moshe Gafni.

moshe gafni 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

 
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The Knesset Finance Committee discussed on Tuesday the possibility of raising the retirement age for women, but did not bring the decision, which most committee members oppose, to a vote.

A number of MKs, from both the opposition and the coalition, have drafted legislation to freeze women’s retirement age at 62, in defiance of the Finance Ministry’s original recommendation to increase the age to 67 in stages.

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One such bill, by MKs Ilan Gilon (Meretz) and Haim Katz (Likud), passed its first Knesset reading last week, and the Welfare, Labor and Health Committee will prepare it for second and third readings.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz suggested that the age of retirement rise from 62 to 64 as a compromise on the two proposals, and asked the Finance Committee to authorize his proposal.

Committee chairman Moshe Gafni (UTJ) asked Finance Ministry representative Eyal Epstein to present further information about the ramifications of the change, and the committee will bring the matter to a vote next week.

At the same time, Gafni explained, all of the committee’s members oppose the move.

Deputy Bank of Israel President Karnit Flug said that the retirement age for women in most countries in the world is 64.

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According to Flug, only three other OECD states – Turkey, Poland and Sweden – have a lower retirement age for women, and raising the age has increased women’s participation in the market in other countries.

However, MK Ruhama Avraham- Balila (Kadima) interrupted her, saying, “Older women can’t find work. We need a plan to remove whatever is blocking women’s employment.

The picture is incomplete, and there are missing details.”

According to MK Faina Kirschenbaum (Israel Beiteinu), “the Finance Ministry stopped paying attention to people, and only sees numbers, but the numbers tell a sad story: the intolerable gap [between men’s and women’s] salaries, and high unemployment among older women.”

She added that “the employment market was not prepared for an older retirement age, but the Finance Ministry wants to save money at the expense of Israeli women. If the retirement age is raised, women will find themselves unemployed and unable to receive a pension or an unemployment allowance.”

The Israel Beiteinu MK said that the Finance Committee “will not allow the retirement age to be raised by even one day.”

Gafni, meanwhile, asserted his committee’s authority to decide the matter.

“I sat with Finance Ministry officials,” he said. “This is a topic that needs to be taken care of, and there will be a war between the Finance Ministry’s legal advisers and this committee over who has the authority to decide – but in the end, we will decide.”

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