International News in Brief: Germans condemn more pension and lower retirement

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In a story that follows completely contrary to that of Australia, Germany has been condemned for its plans to lower retirement age and increase pensions.
In fact, the public are so incensed that engineering companies have financed a publicity campaign that labels the proposals as unfair to future generations, the Financial Times reports.
And while chances are Chancellor Angela Merkel won’t be swayed in her plans to lower the age to 63 for veteran workers and increase pensions for mothers, the campaign hopes to send German’s a message about the economic and social costs of the scheme.
Kurt Lauk, an economic adviser to Ms Merkel, told the Financial Times that Berlin was setting a bad example for vulnerable southern European nations and for France.
“Other countries now tell us, ‘You preach water but drink wine’,” said Lauk. “French politicians have said to me, ‘It’s great because now we can reduce our efforts’.”
The plan will reverse earlier hard-won reforms that would have seen the general retirement age rise from 65 to 67.
An American financial adviser has just been jailed for six years after stealing nearly $1 million from his elderly clients.
Randy Schneider of New Jersey has also been ordered to pay full restitution, Associated Press reported.
Investigators allege that between 2004 and 2011 the adviser stole more than $900,000 from an elderly professor by stealing his bonds, cash, and interest from bearer coupons.
Schneider then stole $20,000 from the professor’s younger brother using the same method.
He also stole a further $26,000 from a bank by opening an account using a fraudulent check and then withdrawing the funds before the bank became aware of the fraud.
Even Schneider’s ex-girlfriend wasn’t safe: he stole and pawned $11,000 worth of her jewellery.
Switzerland could be set to enjoy highest minimum wage in the world, but trade groups are saying the hike will hurt the Swiss economy.
On May 18, Swiss voters are to decide by referendum whether or not the national minimum wage will be raised to the equivalent of just under US$25 per hour, International Business Times reported.
Switzerland currently has no minimum wage written into law, but about 90% of Swiss workers already make more than the proposed amount.
The proposal aims to help elevate the remaining 330,000 -mostly female - low-wage workers who struggle to survive with the high prices of the country.
But the potential new law has not been positively received by all, and some economists, trade groups and businesses have been critical.
In particular, multinational food and beverage giant Nestlé S.A., is concerned that the higher labour costs will negatively affect other companies in the supply chain.
Corporate spokesperson Philippe Aeschlimann said this is despite the fact all of its Swiss employees are already paid above the suggested minimum wage.
“The proposed federally mandated minimum wage is considerably higher than those of neighbouring countries and would not take into consideration regional and sectorial differences,” he told the International Business Times. “It would therefore disadvantage Swiss-based companies, which would negatively impact the Swiss economy.”