Dutch unions protest raising legal retirement age to 67

Dutch unions protest raising legal retirement age to 67Amsterdam - Thousands of labour union members rallied in several cities in the Netherlands Wednesday to protest against government plans to raise the legal retirement age from 65 to

In Utrecht, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague thousands of union members went on strike around noon.

The protests came after the unions and employee associations failed to reach an agreement last week about the long-term financing of the state pensions. The government had requested them to negotiate an alternative to its own plans.

Raising the legal retirement age first became an issue during the general elections in 2006.

However, it was not until March 2009, that Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende made a formal proposal to raise the retirement age to 67. He said the economic crisis had made the move necessary.

Dutch nationals who have resided in the Netherlands between the ages of 15 to 65 are entitled to a state pension once they turn 65.

A single person receives a gross monthly income of 1,011 euros (1,488 dollars) compared with 694.19 euros (1,021 dollars) each for a married couple. Aside from this, many people also receive private pensions originating from their former employment. (dpa)