Unions have reacted negatively to new government proposals for economic transformation. The unions are particularly concerned about the possbility of changes to severance payments which they see as a fundamental employment right especially where workers experience widespread restructuring and precarious employment conditions. The unions are also worried about plans to give a greater role to private pensions and about possible changes to taxation. While proposals for a reduction in indirect taxation might be welcome the unions are unhappy that the measures could further reduce the contribution of corporate tax to public finances which have already been in steady decline over the past 10 years.
Unions reject government's plans on severance, tax and pensions
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The Histadrut trade union organisation is planning to call a strike of teachers, government workers and health employees if the government goes ahead with a plan to cut pension payments. Hundreds of thousands of workers could be affected by the proposed cut of 1.259%. Histadrut has called for a six-month delay but this has not been granted and the union expects that the strike action will go ahead.
The main FNV trade union is linking up with the CNV and VCP confederations to launch a cross-sector campaign on pensions. The plan is for workplace meetings across the country in the lead up to a national demonstration on 18 March. The unions want to see a freeze in pension age and no automatic link to increases in life expectancy. They are also calling for indexation to protect pensions from erosion by inflation and rules to ensure that all workers can build up pension entitlement to protect freelancers and those on precarious contracts, particularly younger workers.
Trade unions in many sectors took strike action and joined protests across the country on 5 December against proposals to reform the pensions system. There is widespread concern that the reforms will lead to later retirement to get decent pensions or retirement on lower benefits. Workers in the transport and education sectors are particularly concerned but the actions, including an 800,000-strong demonstration in Paris attracted wide support. Further action took place on 6 December and is planned for the coming weeks.