TEL AVIV, OCTOBER 2010
EURAG RECOMMENDATIONS AND DEMANDS
EURAG celebrates the fact that people are living longer than ever before. This gives the chance for us all to contribute more to society in many different ways. However, the world of paid employment is not always supportive of older workers. In the post war period exit from the labour market became normal for people in their early 60’s or even 50’s. Faced with the likelihood of living to 90 or more increasing numbers of people will want to work longer or may have financial reasons to need to work into later life. Changes are needed in many aspects of society. Popular culture must change. The notion that one becomes old and fit only for the scrap heap at some arbitrary age around 60 is both insulting to older people and economically damaging. Older people have enormous potential to contribute to the national economy and their own welfare. Fixed retirement ages are a hangover from the times when heavy manual labour was normal and have no place in the modern service orientated economy. The recommendations and demands of Government below are intended to aid the transition to the new world of increased longevity. These recommendations apply to all the social partners including organisations representing older people.
- We demand that Government do everything in its power to end discrimination against older people. Anti discrimination legislation, support for elements of civil society that help older people and delivery of positive images of older people are all relevant.
- We demand that Government scrap the power of employers to compulsorily retire people who reach a certain age.
- We demand that the Trade Unions and other social partners support and encourage the employment of older people.
- We demand that Government introduces or improves flexibility about retirement ages in state and other pension schemes. Depending on peoples preferences or needs possibilities include: allowing people to draw pensions whilst working; allowing partial pensions for part time workers and increasing flexibility in the age at which state pension can be drawn.
- We demand that a non-means tested inflation proofed state pension be set at a decent level relative to average living standards in the country to ensure that workers can make rational decisions about working lives and saving for retirement.
- We demand that government ensures that women have adequate pensions in spite of child bearing responsibility.
- We demand that Government provide prompt medical attention to older workers to ensure that their working skills are not reduced whilst waiting a long time for a treatment.
- If the ageing of the population suggests there is a financial necessity to increase state pension age we demand that Governments give people lengthy warning of any such changes. Also, increases in pension age should not be introduced at periods of depression in the labour market.
- We demand that Governments use their powerful publicity machines to promote the employment of older workers, to publicise “success stories” and to reduce the potential tension between generations. By doing that we improve the image of the elderly as an important factor in society, not someone who needs charity.
- We demand that benefit systems be fit for purpose and support people according to their needs. In particular, the practice of classifying older unemployed workers as disabled should be restricted to those who genuinely cannot work. If older unemployed people are capable of work they must be given training or such other assistance as will enable them to get a job.
- Training must be made available to all older workers, whether in work or unemployed. Failure to refresh skills inevitably leads to lack of work in the long term.
- We demand that educational standards are constantly improved for all. Poor basic education reduces opportunities throughout life with inevitable adverse impacts in old age.