“Not only the age of preferential retirement might be lowered, but also the parameters of [the standard] retirement age might be reviewed,” said the representative of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia. “The authorities need to revise the retirement age downwards to the previous parameters.”
In 2018, the retirement age was raised in Russia by five years after the State Duma had made that notorious decision at the suggestion of Dmitry Medvedev's government. Recently, it has become one of the most discussed topics in the expert community and among the ordinary people. Interestingly, the retirement age is being discussed only in terms of its possible reduction. People note the failure of the pension system reform and therefore there is a need to lift the burden off the labor market and to cut down the retirement age. Moreover, in the beginning of this week, the first steps in this direction have been made by the authorities.
Thus, recent reports said the Ministry of Economic Development recommended that the government should soften the requirements for pre-retirees to retire early by reducing the threshold age by three years and eliminating the requirement for a minimum number of years of service. Many experts have already assessed this initiative of the agency as the first sign that the federal center is ready to back down and to start a downward revision of the retirement age, gradually bringing the country's pension system back to its previous parameters. However, later, the experts' guesses were refuted at the State Duma, while the reduction of retirement age was dismissed as impossible.
Meanwhile, the discussion about a possible revoking of the pension reform or at least its partial reduction of retirement age continues gaining momentum.
Seemingly, the Kremlin, the government, and parliament will not be able to evade a large-scale public discussion of the issue. Independent trade unions have also made the problem more acute. They believe that there are quite a few opportunities for further steps that many Russians are waiting for and demanding from the federal center, almost from the first day the notorious pension reform bill passed.
The proposed extension of the time period of early retirement from 2 to 3 years might be another step made by the government to restore the previous qualifications for the pension age. Alexander Shershukov, Deputy Head of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia, said in a statement recently.
“Authorities to Consider the Lowering of Retirement age”
At the same time, Shershukov said that at the moment, the unemployment rate in Russia is quite high. Moreover, it continues to increase. According to official statistics, the number of officially registered unemployed Russians has doubled in just one month. Shershukov is confident that it has not reached its peak.
“Measures to provide gratuitous loans to the enterprises that have been affected but managed to save jobs, that is, the assistance offered by the Russian president, would help control the rate of unemployment,” he said. “However, there is no doubt that unemployment in the country will continue to grow anyway.”
In this regard, as noted by the independent trade unions, it would be strange to offer the explanation made by the authorities even before the retirement age was raised. Shershukov also recalled that one of the “strongest” arguments that officials gave in favor of the pension reform was the necessity to increase the number of workers in the labor market. According to him, at present, there are fewer and fewer jobs there, and the elderly residents, forced to look for a job, are only exacerbating the situation.
“Obviously, the current situation requires steps in the opposite direction,” added Alexander Shershukov. “It may presuppose not only to increase the time of preferential retirement, but also to come back to the discussion of the pension age parameters. The authorities should consider reduction of the retirement age to its previous parameters. Of course, in this case the problem of funding for all these pensions arises. I should say that it is time for the government to look for ways not only to save money, but also to earn it. Unfortunately, many of the solutions that were voiced before only boil down to finding new ways to save money on people. That time it was decided to save money on pensioners. The current situation has changed everything and it necessitates a reconsideration of previous decisions.”