Any increase to the State pension age will unfairly impact on workers in manual jobs who are ‘physically unable’ to work past the age of 65, according to Sinn Féin.
The Pension Commission report, published last night, calls for the state pension to increase to 67 by 2031 and to 68 by 2039.
It recommends a three month increase every year from 2028 in order to meet the target.
The Social Protection Minister has said the report “unambiguously established that the current State pension system is not sustainable into the future and that change is needed”.
The Fine Gael-Labour increased the pension age from 65 to 66 in 2014.
It was due to increase to 67 this year and 68 in 2028 under the same plan; however, that was shelved based on promises made during the last General Election.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Sinn Féin employment spokesperson Louise O’Reilly said the age should fall back to 65.
“Sometimes politics is about choices,” she said. “For us, it is about saying to people, at the age of 65 - particularly people who are working in manual jobs or back-breaking jobs or on their feet all day - we believe at the age of 65 you should have the right to access the State pension,” she said.
“But equally, if you want to, we believe you should have the right to work on.
“So, what it says in the commission report is that the retirement age should be linked to the age at which you access the state pension. What we say is you should be able to work up until 70 if you so choose and indeed, if you do that you will continue to pay and you will continue to contribute.”
She said a “very full and frank” debate is needed on how the State pension will be funded into the future and questioned why Government has failed to progress plans for an auto-enrolment pension.
“The Pension pot has to be sustainable absolutely,” she said.
“So, we need to look at raising the rate of employers PRSI to fund the right to retire at 65. We need to look at the total contributions model, which the Government talk about but haven’t implemented and we need to look at how we are going to ensure we have auto-enrolment.”
She said the pension debate needs to be focused on the low-income workers who need it most.
“Before I was elected, I worked a union organiser,” she said.
“I worked with people in retail and other areas who would be on their feet for eight to ten to 12 hours a day so by the time they came to 65, they wanted the right to get their pension because they physically were unable to work on.
“Likewise, I represented people who hit the age of 65 and were told by their boss, you have no choice, you have got to go, you have to retire. What we believe is workers should have a choice.”