IRISH workers are going to have to wait longer than anyone else in Europe to get a state pension, a Dail Committee has been told.
These changes are being foisted on private sector workers by politicians who will get elite pensions years before they do, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions said.
These have seen the state pension age rise to 66 this year, rising to 67 in 2021 and to 68 in 2028 – meaning workers will either have to stay in their jobs longer or find some other way of bridging the financial gap till they qualify for a pension.
The changes mean those who would normally have expected to get a pension at 65 will lose between €12,000 and €36,000 in state payments which they had contributed to through PRSI all their working lives.
Fergus Whelan of ICTU said citizens were being "deprived of a significant benefit they earned and paid for" through rapid increases to the state pension age. And he said the politicians introducing these changes would not have to wait till their late 60s and settle for a state pension of €12,000 a year.
"No one has explained to the Irish public why we must have the highest public pension age in the EU," Mr Whelan told the Oireachtas Committee on Social Protection.
But the Department of Social Protection said that the changes were essential to tackle the rising cost of pensions as the population ages and lives longer.
Pensions already accounted for 30pc of social welfare spending and the ratio of workers to pensioners is set to halve by 2050, with the number of older people rising from 12pc of the population in 2012 to 23pc by 2050, said assistant secretary Orlaigh Quinn.
"These demographics clearly show that in order for our pension system to be financially sustainable into the future, it is critical that our people are able to provide for themselves in retirement," she said.