March 19, 2009 Leave a comment
I’ve been catching up on news reports about the European Court of Justice’s recent ruling that the UK’s default retirement age is legitimate.
John Cridland, Deputy Director of the CBI lauded the decision as “a victory for commonsense”, commenting that “Some people can happily work in their existing job beyond the age of 65, but this is not possible for all occupations”.
He went on to state that “companies with small numbers of staff have particular problems adapting jobs to the needs of older workers”.
This is a hugely disappointing and massively short-sighted reaction from an organization that should provide a better example and think more responsibly. For a start we now work in a largely service-based economy rather than one based on manufacturing and heavy manual labour. Even in the manufacturing sector, mechanisation means that aspects of many jobs can be far less physically arduous than in the past. So the “some” people he talks about as being able to happily work in their existing jobs is probably the majority. Second, what “needs of older workers” is he referring to? Yes, the minority of manual workers described above may have a need for lighter or supervisory work but the needs of most of the rest of us can be dealt with on an individual basis e.g. stronger spectacles for fading eyesight. Other problems we may have e.g. back trouble, tiredness, can occur in other individuals also, they are not the sole prerogative of those who are older.
The overarching need of many (but again, not all) over 65s - in increasing numbers – is simply the need to be able to continue to work to secure their financial future. What this means is a need to be treated equally with younger employees and a need to be trained and developed in order to be able to respond to opportunities and keep pace with workplace developments.
Yet again, sweeping statements are applied to a group which is not homogenous. It sounds like a typical “I’m alright Jack” statement by someone who ought to know better.