Zoom Image

Hubertus Heil: Criticism of the CDU

Photo: Britta Pedersen / dpa

The dispute over the retirement age is being used by the SPD and the Greens to make a clear distinction from the demands of the CDU/CSU. Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) rejects the CDU's proposal to abolish the "pension at 63" and accuses the party of conducting "ideological debates".

"The statements from the CDU on pensions miss the reality of life for many hard-working people," Heil told Berlin's Tagesspiegel.

"Pension cuts by people who started working early and have paid in for a long time are anti-performance and unfair," said the SPD politician.

Heil pointed out that the labor force participation of older people had "risen sharply" over the past 20 years. We are supporting this trend with more preventive health care and further training.«

Since this year, there are no longer any additional income limits for people who have taken early retirement. "This will contribute to securing skilled workers," said the SPD politician.

"Anyone who thinks of craftsmen and nurses must rely on flexible transitions into retirement and must not fantasize about retirement at 70 or pension cuts," Heil said to the address of the Union.

It would be "desirable if the CDU and CSU were to deal more with the everyday lives of hard-working people than with ideological debates," he added.

Spahn has initiated debate

Union parliamentary group deputy Jens Spahn (CDU) had made a strong case at the weekend in view of the shortage of skilled workers for the abolition of the "pension at 63" for long-term insured.

"Retiring at 63 costs prosperity, burdens future generations and sets the wrong incentives. It should be abolished immediately and replaced by a better disability pension," said Spahn. Two million skilled workers who had retired earlier were now "sorely lacking".

Green Party leader Ricarda Lang also clearly distanced herself from Spahn's demands. "Anyone who, like Jens Spahn, wants to abolish retirement at 63 is not relying on flexibility, but on social coldness," Lang told the dpa news agency.

"Abolition does not contribute to securing skilled workers, but would de facto lead to a pension reduction for many long-term insured people in physically demanding professions."

In the case of the Left, FDP, AfD and trade unions, Spahn's demand was also met with opposition.

Lang wants clever answers

The current regulation was introduced in 2014 by the then black-red federal government and is aimed at "particularly long-term insured persons" who have paid contributions for at least 45 years.

Those born before 1953 could retire at 63 without any deductions. For younger people born before 1963, this age limit increases gradually. From the year of birth 1964 onwards, it is then again at 65 years, as it says in general information from the German Pension Insurance.

"The retirement at 63 is also an appreciation of the life's work of those who keep our country running – people who care for others for decades, who drive trucks or work in construction," argued Green politician Lang. It is true that clever answers to the shortage of labor and skilled workers are needed.

A higher labour force participation of older people could also make a contribution, "where it is possible and desired". The traffic light has already significantly improved the incentives for recipients of the pension at 63," emphasized the co-chair of the Greens.