The government is to scrap the default retirement age from October 2011, but employers looking to sack older workers will get more protection, with industrial and employment law to be amended to remove unfair dismissal challenges: rights and protection will not be statutory but will be another Code of Practice overseen by ACAS.
Retirement will now become one of individual choice and “freedom”. Especially the freedom to work until you die: the government plans to cut pension benefits by an estimated 15 per cent, by a sleight of hand in how pensions are calculated.
On one hand the government stresses the demographic “time bomb”, implying Britain is running out of workers and needs mass immigration from the EU (never mind the soaring unemployment among 16- to 25-year-olds). On the other hand, it lifts protections for ageing workers. The result: another step towards an ever more “flexible” labour market – with unemployment used as a weapon to ensure that the flexibility all work for the employers.
Employers will never cease to exploit workers, be they children, women, men, youth or older people. Not for them the right to work. The abolition of the default retirement age, hailed by some as “personal choice”, will be a day we come to regret as we travel further into the nightmare of a deregulated labour market.