The FERPA mid-term General Assembly was held in Malaga (Spain) on 16 and 17 April 2009. In this section, you will find some usefull documents.

The New Social Deal : Rights for Retired and Older People ; Defending and Improving Pensions - FINAL DOCUMENT

In particular, the Assembly focused its attention on the following points :

Reaffirmation of FERPA’s principles and of Rights for Retired and Older People in Europe.

We confirm the validity of the founding principles behind FERPA and its demands during the past twenty years and more, implemented in political and trade union action over the years and set out in the "Charter of Rights of Older People in Europe." In particular :

The right to dignity
Everyone is entitled to respect for their dignity and respect for their private life. This principle applies particularly to older and more vulnerable people living with their families or in care homes, including retirement homes ; it is necessary to ensure that they can enjoy appropriate care by qualified and available staff sensitive to those people’s needs ; violence and maltreatment must be prevented and punished.
This right entails a struggle against all forms of discrimination, particularly by gender, age, genetic features, language, religion or other beliefs, disablement or sexual orientation.

The right to an active old age and social participation
The state must guarantee a safe society that exercises solidarity, by means of efficient services, by promoting social cohesion, citizens’ involvement in the life of the community and strengthening social relations. Pensioners and older people are entitled to be informed about social rights and developments in related legislation and to take an active part in the European and national decision-making process.
The European institutions and member states must take adequate measures to enable them to enjoy the right to such participation and to enable the trade union (ETUC and FERPA) to be consulted and to negotiate, at the national and European level, on the specific issues of this group of society and to prevent entirely different entities from usurping this right of representation.
The voluntary work done by retired people must be recognised and appreciated, both as a social resource and as an expression of intergenerational solidarity. In this connection FERPA welcomes the European Commission’s proposal to devote the year 2012 to these themes, asks to be among the social actors involved in preparatory work and declares its full willingness to contribute.
The right to housing
All retired and older people are entitled to suitable, safe and affordable housing, without discrimination. Society must provide the poorest people with acceptable conditions, taking account of incomes and living requirements, whether for those living alone or for families.
The right to public services
The public bodies must guarantee all citizens accessible services based on fulfilling the general interest, transparency, continuity, democratic supervision, solidarity and equal treatment of users.
Everyone must be guaranteed an adequate quantity of water and energy, at affordable prices, subsidised if necessary.
The negative experiences witnessed in recent years in connection with the economic theories of liberalism and a deregulated market must prompt the national and European institutions to propose reforms in this direction.
The right to a pension
All pensioners are entitled to an adequate pension guaranteeing their purchasing power by means of sufficient annual indexing. All states must define the legal retirement age and/or number of years’ contributions on which basis a person can enjoy the right to a pension. The adoption of one system or another of financing and calculating pension benefits must in any case be the result of a dialogue and negotiations between the social partners.
Be that as it may, all retired and older people are entitled to a minimum income above the poverty line, financed by public resources, capable of guaranteeing them a dignified life.
The right to health
All older people must have access to care either at home, in an institution or in hospital. In this connection FERPA considers it important that public health action and funding be guaranteed and given priority over private initiatives.
Access to treatment must be guaranteed and provided promptly. Priorities in the health field must include the development of preventative medicine, early screening and the use of new therapies.
One of FERPA’s fundamental goals is for public systems to provide medical care to dependent persons. The rights and freedoms of all dependent persons must be guaranteed, as must their place in their natural environment and contact with other generations, within respect for diversities.
The state must guarantee the quality of services through cooperation with local communities. It is essential that the work done by care providers be acknowledged.
FERPA is examining, and providing information about, the European countries’ various standards and laws with a view to demanding the best protection and good practices everywhere.
The right to training
Everyone is entitled to access to training throughout their lifetime, even after retirement, to learn to master the new technologies and to avoid new forms of social exclusion.
European funds must support educational initiatives and schemes for pensioners and older people, too. Volunteering activities must be promoted and encouraged and FERPA must continue to develop and support experiments that meet people’s needs and that offer participation in social life, taking account also of relations between the generations.

Pensioners’ socioeconomic situation in Europe, in relation to the present crisis.

The economic and social crisis that has emerged during the past year has brought about an unforeseeable rise in job losses, redundancies, unemployment schemes, and job insecurity.

Pensioners, too, who have in recent years suffered an erosion of their benefits because of rising inflation, are having to face further cuts in social spending, resulting in a deterioration of their living conditions and a sharp rise in the proportion of the population forced to live below the poverty line.

The European Trade Union Confederation, ETUC, supported by its member Confederations and Federations, has adopted a major political initiative and its bodies have identified suitable and effective approaches and measures in response to the exacerbation of social problems due to the economic and financial crisis.

To increase government and public awareness of the difficult situation affecting older people and pensioners, FERPA supports the campaign promoted by ETUC via the trade union action days planned in several European cities with a view to forging a "New social deal" and the defence of workers’ and pensioners’ rights.

To this end it calls on its members to stand ready and to implement, in coordination with their respective countries’ national Confederations, whatever forms of support and trade union action may be deemed useful and necessary.

Specific aspects concerning Women

FERPA’s pensioners and older people demand respect for equality between men and women.
Discrimination against women must be abolished in all European Union countries, in terms of pay, too. It has been observed that pensions paid to women are on average 15% lower than men’s. The women of single-parent families and women of earlier generations are particularly affected, as FERPA has shown through its research work.
The average pay gap between men and women within the EU masks major national and regional differences that conflict with the EU’s goal in terms of social and territorial cohesion. This discrepancy in pensions stems from the continuing pay gap once retirement age has been reached.

It is of the utmost importance to combine social and political policies in the employment field in order to guarantee equality between men and women not only in terms of pay but also in terms of social protection.

In order to be more effective the FERPA Executive Committee must, as far as possible, regularly convene the working group and the Women’s Committee in order to target work more closely and to propose action initiatives for women pensioners.

FERPA’s political role, relations with ETUC and the Institutions

FERPA is resolutely convinced that the prime concern of national states and the European Union must be to defend the social wellbeing of all citizens, partly by means of pension and welfare systems.

The role of the European Federation of Retired and Older People must therefore be to enhance awareness of these social issues on the part of governments and the European Parliament and Commission.

We must also seize the imminent opportunity provided by the European Parliament elections to increase political parties’ and individual candidates’ awareness of issues affecting older people and their willingness to allow FERPA to perform its full role as interlocutor and representative.

To this end FERPA intends to work with ETUC and within ETUC, in the knowledge that potential synergies can strengthen not only employed workers but also pensioners and young people entering the world of labour, in an exchange of intergenerational solidarity that lies at the basis of a modern trade union policy.

FERPA asks to take part in all committees and study and discussion groups within ETIC on these topics and to be involved in negotiations and consultations connected with the issues of ageing and social conditions.

The aim is to make trade unionists’ experience and expertise available to ETUC and its associated Confederations, and to make its own contribution to the analysis of problems and to make proposals for resolving them.

While considering that its full involvement at the statutory level, via acknowledgement of its voting rights on the ETUC Executive Committee, remains essential, FERPA calls on ETUC itself to make a greater commitment to defending pensioners’ rights and demands and to represent and defend, together with FERPA, the rights of older people in Europe, encouraging all trade unions and their members to do the same within both EU and national institutions.