We Won’t Work Till We’re Dead
There was a protest against Conservative plans to delay the pension age until 70, here Innes MacLeod writes about the importance of pensions and retirement:
The UK government recently announced that the retirement age would be gradually increased meaning that the young people of today will not see their pension until they reach their 70’s. Though retirement seems like a far away prospect to those born after 1990 this is something that should deeply concern us.
For me it strikes a personal note. My dad died in his forties my granddad on my mother’s side passed in his fifties. The result of the genetic lottery means that there is a good chance that I’ll have a relatively short life and the idea that I’ll live till my seventies is far from certain. It heartened me therefore to see that protests against this change have begun and will hopefully form an effective campaign. We need to ensure young people understand the dire effects of this policy.
Under capitalism we are told that our hard work will be rewarded, we will reap what we sow. But for most of society this is nonsense. A large number will be forced to work till their dying day with their only reward being barely making ends meet. I’ve worked with those who were physically ruined and long ready for retiring but due to that magic figure of 65 were forced to go on. The average Scot can expect 60-64 years of decent health , for those in low paid, physical labour it will be lower. The strain of full time work will ensure that their health is well deteriorated by the time they leave finish. That’s if you’re lucky enough to make it to that age.
The average lifespan in Scotland for men is 76 and for women 80 . Retirement at 70 will mean for many Scots their first pension payment will not be far from their last breath. In Calton the life expectancy is a horrific 54 years . It will be inevitably the poorest who will work to their dying day, those who do not have the luxury of early retirement and whose health has been damaged by growing poverty.
The apologists will hide behind their statistics and say that reality shows that this is needed. In my eyes if we are working people to their deaths we need to seriously reconsider reality.
Those who can see beyond the government’s claims can see this move for what it really is. They claim that retiring at 65 is not economically unjustifiable. At the same time they are allowing billionaires to avoid hundreds of millions of pounds in tax . The burden has fallen on the poor once again and in order to protect their wealthy friends the tories have decided we should work till we die. We cannot let them get away with it.
Though it is right to campaign against this it is wrong to be complacent. A decent retirement age is all fine and well but the root of the problem is a system that would drain every last drop of profit from us until we are withered. A system that would, after it had reaped its gains from us, leave us physically unable with little resources for enjoyment or happiness. The long promised image of retirement and relaxation is a sham and the reality is isolation and ill health.
One in ten older people in Britain claim to suffer ‘intense’ loneliness . Nearly one in five Scottish pensioners lives in poverty and this number is increasing . The picture is clear, once the capitalist class has squeezed all the labour it can from us it doesn’t give a damn what the rest of our lives are like as long as it doesn’t cost too much.
What we need to fight for is a system where those who are able to give, give what they can and those who have needs have them met (I think someone famous said something like this once). A system of co-operation and mutual support, where the idea of working till you die is consigned to the dustbin of history. I urge everyone young and old to speak up not just against this unjust change but the unjust system it was born from.