Lukas Müller-Brunner, director of the Swiss pension fund association ASIP, has pointed the finger at the “double game” played by the country’s worker unions, which is particularly hurting the second pillar pension system.

Union representatives sitting on the boards of trustees of numerous pension funds “do a great job”, supporting not only the individual pension institutions, but the entire system, he said in an interview with the Neue Zürcher Zeitung newspaper.

“But as soon as things get political, their representatives suddenly talk completely differently. Then, they make occupational pension plans [look] bad. That bothers me a lot,” he added in the interview.

In his comments Müller-Brunner referred primarily to the vote in favour of the 13th month of pension, supported by unions, the Greens and the Social Democratic Party, which will lead to an 8.3% first pillar pension increase from 2026.

The ASIP director has accused the supporters of the expansion of first pillar AHV pensions to have deliberately stirred up mistrust within pension funds.

“They have criticised occupational pension provisions in order to make the AHV look better. Justified criticism is important, but here the mood was created with blanket accusations,” Müller-Brunner added in the interview.

He warned that such a tactic is a “poison for the system” and can “damage the trust” people have in the Swiss pension system.

Unions have campaigned in favour of the 13th month of pension on the argument that pensions in Switzerland are too low because life is becoming more expensive and pension funds’ benefits are falling, an argument rebutted by ASIP.

“The fact that poverty in old age has fallen so dramatically is largely thanks to occupational pension provisions. We need to explain this [to the public] better,” the director said.

The pension fund association is in favour of reforming the second pillar pension system based on changes approved by the parliament last year, facing a referendum this autumn.

ASIP’s members have decided to support the parliament’s proposal to reform the second pillar pension system, Müller-Brunner said, even if individual parts of the proposal “are not completely technically convincing”.

“It is important that this reform succeeds,” he said.

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