A coalition including the Swiss Federation of Trade Unions, SGB USS, Greens and part of the Social Democratic Party (SP) has today launched a political campaign leading to a referendum in March in favour of a 13th month first pillar pension payout – 13. AHV-Rente – instead of 12 months.

With the 13. AHV Rente, the maximum amount of pension annually for individuals in the first pillar pension system would increase by CHF2,450 (€2,632) to CHF31,850, and for married couples it would grow by CHF3,675 to CHF47,775.

A reduction of supplementary benefits because of the additional month of pension per year is excluded.

The measure is justified by inflation, higher rents and health insurance premiums that have hit monthly pensions since 2021, according to the parties in favour of a 13th month of pension.

Its introduction would lead to an increase in pensions by 8.3% per year, according to a paper published by the Federal Social Insurance Office (FSIO).

Pierre-Yves Maillard, president of the Swiss Federation of Trade Unions and SP MP, said: “Our initiative for a 13th AHV pension offers a concrete solution that reaches all pensioners – including the middle class, which also suffers from inflation.”

According to the parties backing the pension increase, the average first pillar pension of just under CHF1,800 per month is “significantly too low”, with a pension gap widening and the rising cost of living exacerbating the problem, they said in a statement.

Moreover, the second pillar does not offer protection against inflation and guaranteed pension benefits against contributions, they said, adding that for years members have been paying high contributions into pension funds, while pensions are constantly falling.

The reform of the second pillar pension system, which foresees a reduction of the conversion rate to calculate pension payouts from 6.8% to 6%, would lead to a further reduction of benefits in the second pillar, even though the financial situation of pension funds is healthy, they added in the statement.

Ronald Schnurrenberger, chief executive officer of the PKE/CPE pension fund, with around CHF11bn in assets and 28,000 members, said the demand for a 13th month of pension is “neither sustainable nor fair”. It would mean additional annual expenditure of around CHF5bn, he added in an opinion piece in the scheme’s publication Exlusiv.

According to FSIO’s paper, the costs to pay a 13th month of pension would amount to CHF4.1bn in the first year, with the government paying CHF800m. Costs would continue to increase rapidly after the first year, expected to hit approximately CHF5bn per year, five years after introduction.

The Federal Council and the parliament have recommend rejecting the proposal in the upcoming referendum on March 3.

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