Retirees rebel over their pension slips

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The digital age is descending a bit too quickly for scores of Norwegian retirees. They’re mounting a rebellion after state social welfare agency NAV stopped sending out their monthly pension slips on paper through the conventional state postal system, in favour of only distributing them via email.

This group of retired Norwegians in Rykkinn were more than willing to join the campaign against forced digitalization of their pension slips. From left: Knut Waasjø, Ragnhild Kirkerud, Eyvind Frilseth, Jan Davidsen and Harald Olimb Norman. PHOTO: Pensjonistforbundet

“We’re starting a campaign because it’s unfair that so many people aren’t getting insight into their own personal economy,” claimed Jan Davidsen, a former top labour union official in Norway who now heads the national retirees’ federation Pensjonistforbund. “NAV is only offering such insight digitally and no longer on paper, which very many people need. Our demand is that everyone who wants to get their monthly pension slip on paper should still be able to get it.”

NAV stopped sending the traditional pension slips on paper in December, regardless of whether recipients were registered as digital users with access to personal computers, smart phones or electronic tablets. Thousands of angry retirees are now denying to accept such treatment from NAV.

“Jeg vil se slippen min!” (“I want to see my pension slip!”) is the name of the campaign that Pensjonistforbundet is mounting after printing up nearly 200,000 postcards that are being distributed to retirees all over the country. The federation wants members to sign and return the cards by April 4, when they’ll be turned over to Labour Minister Anniken Hauglie, who’s politically in charge of NAV for Norway’s conservative government coalition.

Arne Vangsten was among those signing post cards in protest. PHOTO: Pensjonistforbundet

On Wednesday Davidsen and Harald Olimb Norman of Pensjonistforbundet visited a senior center in Rykkinn west of Oslo, where dozens of retirees sat right down to sign their post cards and turn them over.

It’s far from the first time the state has been accused of forcing digital communication on the Norwegian public, also elderly who remain unfamiliar with the Internet and have trouble using mobile phones and email. The tax authorities now require all business owners to file returns electronically, make it difficult for individuals to file tax returns on paper and almost all communication between the public sector and taxpayers is now online. Most all businesses and public utilities that send out bills now charge as much as NOK 50 or more to send them on paper in the mail instead of electronically. Fakturagebyr (billing fee) has become a hated and expensive word on monthly bills.

Davidsen is also taking the campaign to the Parliament and the Government. “Digitalization comes up very often in discussions, and this move by NAV was the last straw, especially because it’s about people’s personal economy,” he said. Pensjonistforbundet is Norway’s largest for retirees and people on disability, with around 225,000 members.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund