The establishment keep repeating the mantra that in twenty years’ time there will be far fewer people working than there are now, and more people in retirement. This has now become the accepted narrative of the mainstream media. And it is a lie.
This lie has been repeated so often it has now become fact and the common belief. But quite the opposite is true: the work force in the Republic today is in excess of 2.3 million, which is substantially higher than thirty years ago, when in the 1980s there were fewer than 1 million people working.
In 2028 the Irish state will have the highest retirement age in Europe, at 68. At 66 today we are two years higher than the EU average. We have almost 30 per cent fewer older people than the EU average.
According to the most recent EU statistics, the average proportion of people over the age of 65 is 19 per cent, with the highest in Italy, at 22 per cent, and the lowest in Ireland, at 13 per cent. So there is no “pensions time bomb.”
This pension theft is a direct transfer of wealth from the ordinary citizens to the business class, who are more than willing to sell private pensions to workers at extortionate rates, with absolutely no guarantee of return.
This is classic neo-liberal tactics, perfected by Fine Gael’s Leo Liberals to convince workers of the urgent need to finance their own pensions and to remove this obligation from the state.
The increase of the pension age to 68 is the largest cut ever in the social safety net. It is the equivalent of a cut of €39,000 per worker, i.e. state pension = €13,000 p.a. × 3 years.
If you work until you are 68 and live until you are 83, this cut is equivalent to a cut in pension of 20 per cent, i.e. €2,600 p.a. for 15 years = €39,000; higher if you die earlier. This is pension theft by the state.
Your pension is paid for over your full working life. It is deferred pay that you have paid for over years of contributions. It is the least you can expect when you reach 65.
Of course politicians can retire at 50, while workers are thrown under the bus.
All trade unions and the ICTU have a policy of returning to the pension age of 65. SIPTU intervened in the election campaign to stop the pension age being increased to 67 in 2021, which has forced politicians to react, eager to outdo each other on the hustings and to win votes.
Fine Gael would be ideologically opposed to reversing this policy, but the gombeenmen of Fianna Fáil might be willing to compromise and grant the change in order to gain office. If they are forced to make this compromise in order to win the election they will do so in the full knowledge that they will take this money away from workers by some other method, a tax increase or cut.
Make no mistake about it: they will protect their paymasters, the bankers, builders, and speculators, as they always do. There is no crisis Fianna Fáil cannot solve so long as they can transfer the burden onto the working class and continue the transfer of wealth from ordinary working families to the richest in society.
Of course they are not unique in doing this in Dáil Éireann: the Labour Party, the Green Party and Fine Gael are more than capable of it. Fianna Fáil, on the other hand, are experts at concealing it by convincing citizens that it is their own fault, that Fianna Fáil are their protectors and can be depended on to solve all the people’s problems.
“We all partied”—Brian Lenihan
“We are living way beyond our means”—Charlie Haughey
“We will not stand idly by”—Jack Lynch
“It took Ireland thirty years to become an overnight success”—Bertie Ahern