By Charlie Kimber
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 1978

Stealing your retirement

This article is over 16 years, 1 months old
Bosses want us to work till we’re 67 | Many more workers will die before they get a pension
Issue 1978

There is a plan to steal your retirement and to turn the clock back 50 years to when workers died soon after they retired.

A detailed leak to the Financial Times last week suggested that when the pension commission, chaired for the government by former CBI bosses’ chief Adair Turner, reports next Wednesday it will suggest a fundamental assault on pensions.

It is predicted to call for a rise of two years in the state pension age, from 65 to 67.

That would wipe out all the gains in life expectancy during the last 30 years for the majority of working people. The actual number of years many workers get a pension for will fall back to the level of half a century ago.

You’ll have to wait two more years before you get your pension, but for most working people life expectancy has risen less than two years.

In parts of London, Glasgow and Manchester it’s already true that your predicted life expectancy is 65, pension age — you die before you collect a penny. That will now be true for many more people.

According to official statistics the life expectancy of the poorest section of the male population (social class V) at age 65 grew by just 1.7 years from 1972 to 2001.

A building labourer — who is much less likely to reach 65 in any case than a manager—will work his guts out and then die soon after the leaving do. Even the next poorest social class (social class IV) saw a rise of only 1.9 years. So a machine tool operator will also see his life expectancy improvement wiped out.

The situation is even worse for women. Between 1972 and 2001, the bottom three social classes saw their life expectancy at age 65 rise by only six months, 1.4 years and 1.9 years. That’s all to be swallowed up by a raising the pension age.

And women have already faced an increase from 60 to 65 in the pension age.

Terry Powell, a bricklayer from south London, told Socialist Worker, “My dad used to say a brickie’s life meant retire on a Friday, die on a Monday. His generation didn’t get time after they stopped working to be with their kids and their grandchildren.

“I’m afraid we’re going back to that. Lots of my mates don’t get through to 65 anyway. Some die, some are too ill to work, some are just broken by the job. So a rise in the pension age to 67 means years longer living on crappy benefits waiting to get your pension.

“If you’re in the manager’s office it might be OK to work to 67. It’s not like that if you’re a manual worker.”

All the signs are that Labour will support a rise in the pension age — and the Lib Dems have already rushed to do so. We need a massive campaign to beat back this attack.


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