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Pension and retirement: finally the paradise?

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During the month of February, the Belgian government published the “green book”, including conclusions about the payment of retirement pension, the challenge for the coming years. The conclusions were not a surprise, but only what everybody already knew, conclusions already done by economists and demographers. The government and some political people begin to admit that if people want to get a decent pension later, they have to save money. The problem of pension payment is due to the pyramid of ages. Indeed, the percentage of retired people is increasing. It means that the weight of pension costs on shoulders of active people will be more important.

An announced conclusion of the study was that people should work 3 years more than the average. It does not mean that the legal pension age would not be 65 years but 68 years. We have to know that in Belgium, only one person over ten who are between 55 and 60 years old is still working. We are one of the European countries where the activity rate of this generation is the lowest.  How to explain such fact? In Belgium the tax level on work is very high. For somebody who spent few years or his full career in the same company, the lay off indemnities are very high. Of course, each employee agrees to have the maximum of indemnities, but should not be better to have less indemnity but to work for a longer time?

In Belgium as in every country, there were several restructuring processes in large companies, creating social disasters. It is always a painful hardship, where people are wondering how they will pay the bills at the end of the month. Most of them, who were more than fifty five years old, were retired anticipatively. By hearing some politicians, I have the feeling they were considering this as a gift, the fact that people who were wrongfully fired, merit to be retired anticipatively. Does it mean that everybody is necessarily happy to stop working when he is fifty five years old? Does it not mean that you are considered as too old, and then useless? Some studies showed that people who were retired anticipatively, by their own or by force, have a lower quality of live after few years. So to be retired anticipatively is not precisely a gift.

It is of course more difficult for people with lower qualifications to find a job when they have a certain age. But on the other side, with such view I explained before, the qualities and knowledge acquired by experience are not valued at all. In a previous posting, I was talking about the employability, meaning that each worker needs to gain in knowledge and expertise in order to move with the environment changes, to acquire tools and develop capabilities in order to face new challenges. The combination of experience and trainings provides added value and know how for each worker and as consequence for the company too.

It has to be remembered that the education is also important, that everybody needs to have enough chances to start in the active life. There is a lot improvement to be done on that level, when we are noting that in a city like Brussels, capital of Europe, there is around 20 percent of workless people, and for young people who are between 15 and 24 years old count around 35 percent of workless people.

Work is a right, and the government should take initiative in order to give chances to everybody to get dignity to have a job, by empowering the education, by promoting entrepreneurship, by encouraging social and economical initiatives. Work is the way to ensure independence to everybody. It is only on this base that we can maintain a sustainable social system.

Work is a right, and should be more considered as this and not as a constraint. It is a constraint if you do not like what you do, or if you are not considered for what you are doing. Confucius said: “Choose a work you like, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Picture source: http://www.summersdale.com/images

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Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

February 24, 2010 at 21:31

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