Trade unions aim to challenge a change to dismissal and retirement rights that took effect on 1 January. This was a last-minute change introduced by the government as part of a new package of measures in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The legislation means that employers can now dismiss without justification any worker who reaches state pension age. The unions have attacked the change on several grounds. It was introduced without any due process of social dialogue; it is a permanent change rather than part of a temporary response to the pandemic; it flies in the face of many efforts in recent years to extend working lives; it is discriminatory on the basis of age; and it fails to address the potential, significant impact on the state budget. The unions are calling for a legal review, will be in contact with the European Commission and the European trade union movement and are committed to defend any member sacked as a result of the new law.
Unions angered by change to dismissal and retirement rights
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Three trade union confederations have come together to launch a campaign to secure a referendum with the aim of reversing changes to the retirement age. The unions want to retain 65 as the normal retirement age but the government has already put in place legislation to increase it to 67 and more recently to bring forward the date of full implementation. If the unions can get the support of 10% of the electorate then the government will have to organise a referendum. EPSU sent a message of support to the unions.
The trade union movement has applied for a judicial review of the change in law that effectively allows employers to summarily dismiss workers without reason once they reach pension age. They also want the legislation suspended. Unions reacted angrily to the new law which they argue was inappropriately included in a package of temporary measures to deal with the pandemic. The measure was implemented without any form of social dialogue and the unions have raised this specific concern with the European Commission.