Well dear readers, the government has announced its proposed pension reform, a reform that is much needed given the extremely young retirement age and drain on the public purse, but as in every nation, be it the UK, France or indeed Ukraine, it has its decentors.
Interfax-Ukraine: According to Head of the National Forum of Ukrainian Trade Unions Myroslav Yakibchuk, first of all, it is necessary to carry out labor reform, raise livings standards and only then conduct pension reform.
“Pension reform will fail, it is premature and it will not improve living standards. This is large-scale fraud by the government,” he said.
Deputy Head of the National Forum of Ukrainian Trade Unions Hryhoriy Kabanchenko, in turn, noted a negative aspect in this pension reform, which, in his opinion, would directly concern servicemen and law enforcement officers. According to him, it is not clear what law enforcement officers without any civil profession will do while waiting for the retirement age of 60 years.
Kabanchenko also noted that the pension reform proposed by the government, in fact, contradicted the Constitution of Ukraine, because Article 22 notes that it is impossible to worsen the position of workers and infringe on their rights.
As reported, the Ukrainian government proposed gradually increasing the retirement age for women from 55 to 60 years, annually adding six months starting from February 1, 2011, and for men working in the public service from 60 to 62 years starting from 2013.
Now of course, readers of this blog will understand that I will have to defend such a plan in principle, having identified the very same system to raise the retirement age many months ago (in fact hoping that the system I outlined would be one similar to that which the government would take……so obviously a carbon copy of what I said here in July being adopted can hardly be criticised by myself).
To me, at the time of writing that post many months ago, and it remains the case today,it seems that this is the fairest and least aggressive way to raise the pensionable age over a sustained period without any major shocks to the system or those approaching retirement.
As for Article 22 of the Constitution of Ukraine, as mentioned in the quote by Mr Kabanchenko, well here it is in all its glory:
Article 22. Human and citizen rights and freedoms affirmed by this Constitution shall not be exhaustive.
The constitutional rights and freedoms shall be guaranteed and shall not be abolished.
The content and scope of the existing rights and freedoms shall not be diminished by an adoption of new laws or by introducing amendments to the effective laws.
One has to assume he is referring to the emboldened sentence I have……errrm…..emboldened.
Now if we are to play the devil’s advocate on behalf of the Ukrainian Government, I would argue that firstly the right to a state pension will not be diminished by the introduction of the pension reform. That right is still very much there.
Those currently collecting pensions do not have any monetary value removed, which is fortunate as the majority of pensioners get very little by way of pension anyway.
The union gentleman in question does not even dismiss the idea of pension reform but claims living standards must increase prior to any pension reform, although when living standards do increase, the Constitution will still contain the sentence it contains now, so difficult is it to change the Constitution, so his objection should still remain valid. If it is a point of principle and Constitutional right that he is using to state the pension reform is illegal, then whether it happens when living standards are as they are now, or far better or far worse in years to come, it will still remain un-Constitutional whenever any pension reform was made.
Quite frankly, as devil’s advocate, I do not see he has a valid argument under Article 22.