19.05.2017

Swiss Pension System: 24 September referendum is coming, D-Day for the reform?

400Switzerland’s occupational pensions association has decided to back the country’s reform package, AV2020. During its general assembly last week, ASIP announced its support for the proposals agreed in parliament earlier this year, after seeking its members’ opinions on the Altersvorsorge 2020/Prévoyance vieillesse 2020 (AV2020/PV2020) reform package.

After considerable back-and-forth, the reform was approved in March. Next, Switzerland’s population will decide on the reform package in a binding referendum on 24 September.

A public vote is necessary because part of the reform requires an amendment to the country’s constitution. However, on 24 September Swiss people will not only be able to vote for or against the increase in VAT for pension payments, but also on the whole package.

This means the reform package as a whole could still be toppled as unions, employer representatives, and parties have already started to campaign ahead of the referendum.

ASIP said it would focus its referendum campaign efforts on “fact-checking”.

ASIP represents 935 Swiss Pensionskassen, who in turn represent around two-thirds of the country’s population covered by workplace pension plans. Of the 188 members that participated in ASIP’s survey, 159 were in favour of the reform package and 29 against. Of those registering their support, 60 did so with reservations, mainly because of concerns about a CHF70 (€64) monthly top-up of statutory pensions for future pensioners.

“On the basis of these results and after weighing the pros and cons, ASIP says ‘yes’ to the compromise,” the industry association said in a statement.

Given the different structures of ASIP’s member schemes, the association said it was up to each individual pension fund to decide how to position itself in the campaign and how it wanted to inform its members.

ASIP said it would not join any campaign committee, but it would still be involved in the referendum campaign, mainly by running a digital education and fact-checking campaign.

This would highlight the pros and cons of the proposed reform and the consequences of a ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ vote, and ASIP’s goal was to improve understanding of pensions-related matters and counter false information, it said.

The Swiss general trade union association came out in favour of the reform package, saying that, on balance, it was positive for employees. Employer and commercial federations have come out against the reform. The insurance association has not said backed either side, instead choosing to communicate that it has reservations and considers the proposed reform package “unsatisfactory”.


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