Special pleading for grafters
Although technically the state pension is not a form of saving, is it fair that many very hard working people who will contribute throughout their working lives towards other peoples’ state pension will receive little or no benefit for themselves?
Barbara Morris is a health visitor with firsthand experience of helping people cope with the effects as a life time of manual work starts to take its toll.
Living in the Black Country with light and heavy industry on every corner, men and women who work all their lives in these industries are quite physically worn out by the time they retire. All many of them can look forward to, is tending the garden for a few years before an early death.
Not for them gradually winding down, shortening their hours, enjoying the fruits of a life well-lived; they can either do the job as well as a younger, stronger person, or leave.Workers who are on light duties may be able to carry on past their mid-sixties, not needing much physical strength but many men and women in manual work, on retirement, can hardly walk due to hip and/or knee arthritis after standing for endless hours, over endless years on concrete floors at work. Bricklayers who could have been champions at laying up to 1,000 bricks a day, in later life may be hardly able to lift a full glass due to arthritic hands. The bricklayer’s labourer could have had it even worse, carrying 1,000 bricks a day in a hod on his shoulders up ladders on to scaffolding.
For women with smaller, less powerful muscles, hard physical work is equally wearing. They work in factories too. Or heavy domestic work, kneeling, scrubbing, juggling several part-time jobs in addition to housework and child –care, with maybe the travails of pregnancy on top.
It is documented that professional and managerial classes live longer than manual workers and this is why. Physical strength naturally begins to wane from a person’s early fifties. As an example, a care-worker in a nursing home may find it impossible to do such heavy, difficult work after the age of even 60, let alone 65 and could be quite worn out by retirement age. It is common to witness staff struggling to carry on after 65 in heavy care-work, needing to but not being able to afford to retire. It is still taken into account within some occupations, for instance nursing, where staff are sometimes allowed to take early retirement at 55, acknowledging that they are probably knackered by that age anyway. At the moment, rumours are circulating that early retirement is about to be withdrawn by government.
No-one in management cares whether people are still physically capable or not – they are merely working units so if they cannot do the job they just have to leave. No gentle winding down or light duties for them. This talk of ‘winding down’ jobs, speaks of office workers in high positions, not bricklayers, blacksmiths, nursing assistants, factory piece-workers, machine-minders and others. There are currently no easy late-age jobs in these fields, for if you cannot do the work you will have to try to do something else. If you can find a job, that is.
I am convinced that Government only has knowledge of its own special class –regarding aged MPs and Lords and Ladies as an example of what is possible for those working beyond the age of 65. It has little knowledge of how life is lived down in the swampy lowlands of Britain. If, in the future, Govt. requires all workers to serve extra years taking retirement age to 70, women will have had an extra 10 years added to theirs. If in addition, benefits are cut to the minimum we will be seeing many more of the elderly in financial straits.
In the future it would be fair if the wear and tear of labouring jobs could be recognised when deciding retirement age, in order that the descent into quiet poverty for many manual workers will cease to be so abrupt. Otherwise could this bring back the sight of the ‘ploughman homeward plodding his weary way ’ fearful that the farmer may notice and replace him with a faster, fitter man?
Could it then be back to tending the garden for a couple of years and an early death?
We should have moved on forever from working people into decrepitude until they drop.