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Häkämies: Decision on retirement age increase needed soon

Changing employment and economic conditions are forcing both sides of industry to consider new solutions aimed at lengthening careers, says the CEO of the Confederation of Finnish industries (EK) Jyri Häkämies in an interview with Yle on Saturday. He also called for a zero option on pay rises.

EK:n toimitusjohtaja Jyri Häkämies.
Jyri Häkämies, CEO of the Confederation of Finnish Industries. Image: Yle

Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen has already asked both union and management bodies to examine fresh initiatives if current solutions do not extend the current time spent at work. Both sides are expected to present their ideas within the month.

”The issue under consideration is whether a decision to raise the statutory retirement age can be reached in the very near future,” he explained.

Häkämies made his comments on the Yle TV1 talk show Ykkösaamu on Saturday. In his view, the issue has become more pertinent in the light of poorer employment and economic prospects. He called for Finland to adopt the Swedish model of increasing the statutory age of retirement to 65 years. Häkämies added the change could be implemented within a ten-year transition period.   

”The alternatives are very unattractive. They would take the form of cuts and tax increases,” Häkämies claimed in the interview.

Commenting on the recent debate on salary reductions, Häkämies noted EK was advocating moderation in pay rises rather than an actual reduction in pay. At best, wage rises would be linked to individual company productivity.

EK has vociferously championed raising the statutory age of retirement from the current age of 63 to 65. In December, Häkämies suggested a two hour increase in the work week would improve competitiveness -- a move that was immediately rebuffed by the blue collar SAK union federation.

Unions have sternly opposed moves to increase the age of retirement and have called for measures to increase employment. In their view, the high number of unemployed people and part-time employees constitute a large reservoir of unused working hours.

 Jyri Häkämies took up the post of CEO at the Confederation of Finnish Industries last November after serving as a government minister.

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