The Retirement Trap
The story of Moroccan pensioners in Europe and their attempts to address pension injustice and ‘retirement apartheid’
Moroccans who have spent all their working lives in France and the Netherlands are now facing discrimination against their pensions in what has been slammed as a form of ‘retirement apartheid’.
Retired French and Italians can live anywhere in Europe without it affecting their domestic pension entitlements; but north Africans who’ve lived and worked in France for more than 40 years are denied the same rights.
Instead they face a stark choice – return to their home countries and lose large slices of their pension and face medical bills they can’t afford; or remain in, say, France with their full pensions but away from their families back home.
“I’m sick,” says 75-year-old Mohamed Air Wakrim who’s lived in France for 45 years. “If I stay in Morocco for more than six months, they’ll find out and take away my rights.”
Contrast this with the treatment of Europeans and you have what some people have called ‘retirement apartheid’.
“In Tunisia, I only have to pay four or five percent tax,” says Italian pensioner Mauro Sansovini. “In Italy, the tax rate on my pension income is between 40 and 45 percent.”
Salim Fkire, the president of CAP SUD MRE, a campaign group of Moroccans residing abroad, sums up the situation: “Mohamed and Patrick both worked in the same factory, got the same pension and paid the same taxes. Today, Patrick has the right to live permanently in Agadir. But Mohamed can’t stay in his home town for more than six months. After that he’ll have to return to France or else he’ll lose his social rights.”
In The Retirement Trap, we look at the struggles of Moroccans to redress this pension injustice and escape the retirement trap they find themselves in.
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