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Swiss may back plan to raise retirement age for women
Sep 25

GENEVA (AP) _ Swiss voters appear to have narrowly backed a proposal to raise the retirement age for women to 65, according to projections Sunday by public broadcaster SRF.

A separate proposal to impose stricter animal welfare rules for livestock was heading for a big defeat, SRF reported on the basis of partial counts still underway after polls closed at noon.

The proposed reform of the Swiss pension system would require women to work an extra year before becoming eligible for full retirement pay benefits. Men already have to work until 65 to get full benefits.

It's part of a reform already passed by parliament, but requiring voter approval, that also would involve raising the country's value-added tax to help replenish funds in the pension system. Officials say the number of retirees is growing faster than the number of working people.

Such steps are seen as needed to shore up the state-backed pension fund over the next decade, as Baby Boomers increasingly retire and people overall have been living longer, especially women who have a higher life expectancy than men.

Opponents said the reform would rest entirely on the shoulders of women, whose pay through the retirement scheme is usually less than what men receive _ and would accentuate inequalities and unfairness they say have long bedeviled women in Switzerland.

The proposal to improve the living conditions of its livestock was brought by environmentally minded groups that want to end ``intensive breeding'' _ where animals are often confined in tight spaces _ and require more humane living conditions for them.

The Swiss parliament and executive branch opposed the proposal _ arguing it would drive up prices and that ``animals of production`` are already well-protected and well-treated in Switzerland.

They also argued it would cause administrative headaches by banning the importation of products that don't meet Swiss standards and require inspections to take place abroad. It could have impact on any food item _ such as Switzerland's famed cheese and chocolates _ that includes animal products.

Supporters insist the measure is needed to ensure that livestock are kept in proper living conditions _ such as with regular excursions outdoors, proper spacing in cages or other containment spaces _ and are subject to humane methods of slaughter.

Last year, some 80 million animals were fattened and slaughtered in Switzerland, an increase of nearly 50 percent from a generation ago.

Recent polls showed a majority of voters initially supported the idea, but then began to sour on it _ in part because of resistance from livestock raisers who argue that the measure would be hard to carry out.

By The Associated Press, Copyright 2023

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