Saturday, 14 February 2009

Economically Vulnerable Workers


Just back this week from a fascinating visit to Finland.

This trip, with Judith Jackson (middle of picture on left) of the GFTU, was aimed at securing the partnership of the Workers' Academy (Kari Kinnuen, Principal, on left of picture) and public sector union JHL in a European partnership project with other partners in Malta, Holland and France.

The aim of this partnership is to transfer the highly successful work of the GFTU in enabling older workers to gain financial security in retirement through a mixture of measures including support to re-train and stay within the labour market as well as providing education to enable workers to properly understand the pension schemes to which they make contributions and calculate payments based on contributions.

The project will seek funding from the EU's Leonardo Lifelong Learning programme under its Transfer of Innovation initiative. All being well work will start in October 2009. All partner countries have identified a traditional pattern of unemployment of workers 55+ arising from redundancy and workplace change. This is now being exarcerbated by the global economic downturn and the project hopes to provide much-needed support to these workers.

Despite the introduction of the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations trade unions are are still reporting on cases of discrimination against older workers. It would be useful to know of your experience in this area and of whether in your workplace forms of discrimination still occur around age.


Never Surrender! said...

Your comment doent make any sense to me as at our place every one is under fire and not just beacuse of age.

You can get picked on for any reason and sometimes if you have been there longer that can help.

I understand what you day about the regulations though as they make no difference as our employer wouldnt know what you was talking about and what just do what they wanted and argue that it is for the business interest.

Jas said...

Hi Ian,

Like the person above I feel that age isn't an issue in the manufacturing sector where I work.

Things are bad and most members are very worried about their jobs despite their age.

I think though that an older man is in a worse place than a young man as he has less chance to find a job if he get's made redundant.

Must have been nice to be in Finland and would like to know more when next time we meet. When next are you at Esher?


Jenni said...

My position is different from the last two.

In food processing older workers are vulnerable often because they are either on a slightly higher premium or less willing or able to adapt to change.

Either way it has been my experience to see older members as more vulnerable.

Ian Manborde said...


Many thanks for these comments.

It is to be expected that across organised workplaces there will be diferent experiences around the position of workers nearing retirement.

There is though, in an examination of labour market data, clearly a trend for workers nearing retirement to more often spend up to 5 years prior to the receipt of retirement income in periods of unemployment and in receipt of benefit.

Dependent on the nature of pension schemes those workers pay in to (if at all) this scenario can have distress effects on retirement income particularly for those in final salary schemes.

As I mentioned in the original posted item, a particular concern for trade unions and those organisations supporting the interests of older people in society, is the extent to which the Age Regulations appear to be offering limited forms of protection from continuing, if not increasing, discrimination based on age.