Swiss Narrowly Back Hiking Retirement Age For Women
Geneva, Sept 25 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 25th Sep, 2022 ) :Swiss voters on Sunday accepted by a hair a divisive pension reform plan, which will raise women's retirement age to the same as men's, but snubbed a push to ban factory farming Final results showed a tiny majority of Swiss approved a government plan to reform the country's pension system for the first time in more than a quarter of a century.
Bern has long argued the need to "stabilise" the country's old-age security system, under pressure as life expectancy rises and the giant baby boomer generation reaches retirement age.
Just 50.57 percent of Swiss agreed to the most controversial part of the reform, involving hiking women's retirement age by one year.
A separate vote on boosting funding for the reform through a sales tax hike meanwhile passed with 55 percent in favour.
Parliament approved the key measures last year, but left-leaning parties and unions decried the reform "on the backs of women" and pushed the issue to a referendum under Switzerland's direct democratic system.
Backers of the reform argued that it was reasonable for men and women to retire at the same age, with Celine Amaudruz, vice president of the populist rightwing Swiss People's Party hailing the vote as "a first step towards permanence" for the old-age insurance system.
Opponents argued that women face significant discrimination and a broad gender pay-gap in Switzerland, and thus receive far smaller pensions than men, demanding such issues be addressed before hiking their retirement age.
Sunday's results were not immediately broken down by gender, but did show a dramatic divide between different Swiss regions.
While Switzerland's German-speaking part was overwhelmingly in favour of the reform, the French and Italian-speaking parts were staunchly opposed, with nearly 63 percent of Geneva voters voting "no" and more than 70 percent in Jura canton.
Pierre-Yves Maillard, head of the Swiss Trade Union Federation, warned that the deep divide seen between the genders and the regions on such an important issue was "not good politics." "It will leave a trace," he told the Keystone-ATS news agency.
- Factory farming ban rejected - Another hotly debated issue on Sunday's ballot, a proposed ban on intensive livestock farming, was meanwhile rejected.
Final results showed just over 63 percent of voters voted "no" to the popular initiative by animal rights and welfare organisations.
The backers of the initiative had wanted to make protecting the dignity of animals like cattle, chickens or pigs a constitutional requirement.
Their initiative would have imposed stricter minimum requirements for animal-friendly housing and care, access to outdoors and slaughtering practices, essentially outlawing factory farming.
The government and parliament opposed the initiative, insisting that Switzerland already has among the world's strictest animal welfare laws, and that tightening the rules would significantly hike prices.
Backers of the initiative said Sunday they were pleased the campaign had at least raised awareness about the issue.
"For us, it is in any case a victory."Voter participation Sunday ticked in at over 52 percent, above the usual ceiling of around 50 percent.