Opinion Former Article

NUT: Steps to raise state pension age will alienate the public, unions warn

YouGov poll reveals public opposition crosses political divide

Nearly eight in ten (77%) British people and seven in ten Conservative voters (69%) think making British workers work longer than their European counterparts to receive their state pension is unfair.

A YouGov poll - commissioned by Unite, the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union and the National Union of Teachers (NUT) - reveals today (Tuesday, May 8) that a clear majority of those born before 1977 polled (62%) are uncomfortable with plans to raise the state pension age, with 53 per cent of those voting Conservative in 2010 sharing that view.

A strong majority of voters (62%) believe that any attempt to continue to raise the state pension age will hit the poorest pensioners hardest. And substantial numbers of current Conservative voters are also concerned that delaying retirement would mean fewer jobs for younger people (35%) and deny working people the opportunity to enjoy a well-earned retirement.

But while 57 per cent of people polled do have some understanding of plans to delay the state pension age, a significant number (38%) do not. Over one third of current Conservative voters (35%) were unaware, as were 31 per cent of Lib Dem supporters and 37 per cent of Labour supporters, of plans to make people work longer.

The unpopularity of the plans, plus the alienation of David Cameron's core support on this issue, are revealed ahead of tomorrow's (Wednesday, 9 May) Queen's Speech, which is expected to announce measures to make public sector workers work longer.

Already, British citizens will be among the last to claim their state pension in Europe, with the majority of EU countries retiring at 65, while in France, presidential candidate Francois Hollande is actually planning to reduce the age from 62 to 60.

The unions' campaign - called 68 is too late, launched today - seeks to mobilise the public against plans which could see the finishing line for access to state pensions moved ever further forward. Men today are already set to work three years longer and women work eight years longer before they can claim their state pension. A child born today could be asked to work well into their 70s.

The unions are also highlighting the serious workplace and social problems that will accompany the enforced longer working age for public sector workers, particularly those with strenuous or demanding jobs like construction workers, cleaners, nurses, paramedics and teachers, including an increasingly frail workforce and the exclusion of younger workers from the labour market.

General secretary of the PCS union, Mark Serwotka, said: "In an economy that can afford tax breaks for the very rich, it ought to be a national scandal that the rest of us are being forced to work so much longer. Instead of making people work until they drop, we should be giving them dignity in their retirement, and rather than abandoning pensioners to poverty, we should provide a decent state pension that they can live on."

Christine Blower, General Secretary of the NUT, said: "This Government is determined to strip workers of the entitlement to a retirement that is dignified. We must be equally determined to stand together and ensure we defend a decent retirement age for all workers. It is simply not feasible for the majority of people to be working beyond 68. It is certainly not in the interest of employees or of young people who will be squeezed out of the job market."

Unite's General Secretary, Len McCluskey added: "Making British people work until they drop is another hijacking of our living standards and shows no care for the lives of ordinary people. How can it be that the seventh richest nation on the planet denies its people a healthy retirement? This is not the sort of achievement any government can be proud of. This is unpopular, impractical and will strain our society. The government must rethink and do so now."

The 68istoolate campaign is launched with a website (www.68istoolate.org.uk) to capture public support. Additionally, a short film setting out why 68 is too late has also been produced to alert the public to the changes, also available for view on the campaign website.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,722 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 18th - 19th April 2012. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). A copy of the full poll results is available at www.68istoolate.org.uk

The campaign can be followed on Twitter @68toolate

For further information, please contact the union press officers on:
PCS, Richard Simcox on 07833 978216.
NUT, Caroline Cowie on 07879 480061
Unite, Shaun Noble on 07768 693940

 

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