Labour minister dismisses pension age rise call

Social Democratic (SPÖ) Labour Minister Rudolf Hundstorfer has strongly challenged pension age appeals by European Union (EU) Commissioner László Andor.Hungarian economist Andor – the EU’s Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion – said yesterday (Weds) EU member states must increase the age their citizens retired to avoid a breakdown of the social system.Think tanks have warned the number of employed EU citizens would decline from around the current 330 millions to 317 millions in 2030 since an increasing number of employees are opting for early retirement.Andor appealed on governments to set a framework enforcing people to retire at a later stage.Hundstorfer however hit back today. He said: “This question is not an issue open for debate.”The minister said he would ensure Austrian men continue to retire at 65, while women stop working at 60 at the moment and at 65 from 2020.European Commission (EC) research meanwhile showed that Austrians actually retired at an average 60.9. Romania has the lowest average retirement age among the EU-27 at 55.5, while the Irish work until 64.1. Hungary and Luxembourg did not provide figures to the EC.Economists have however repeated their warnings the Austrian healthcare and social system was about to collapse due to the ongoing ageing process in the society.Some suggest the government must ask people to contribute more to the social benefits system, while others said an increase of the pension age was unavoidable.Austrian Trade Union Federation (ÖGB) officials meanwhile claimed more investments in the labour market were the key.