Three-card trick

The Government is attempting to push the state pension age to 70 by the back door. It is proposing to do this by adding 24 per cent to the pension rate if people forgo their pension and work on till they are 70.

By working to 70 you give up a total of €63,180* in payments over the five years—all to receive an extra €62 a week. At that rate it would take an extra 1,019 weeks, or 19½ years, to get this money back.

This is a typical tactic of right-wing governments: muddy the waters and confuse the situation to make it look like something it is not. Like all such tricks, it’s a con job. This one is designed to raise the retirement age to 70 by stealth.

They want to introduce five rates, depending on what age you retire at, as follows:

Retire at 66: €253 per week

Retire at 67: €266 per week

Retire at 68: €281 per week

Retire at 69: €297 per week

Retire at 70: €315 per week

This is discrimination against workers who are not physically or mentally fit to work past 65 because of the nature of their work. It is also discriminating against people because of their age, as they will be treated less favourably because of this.

The Employment Equality Acts (1998–2015) ban discrimination in employment on a number of grounds, including age. The acts also outlaw direct and indirect discrimination, and discrimination by association at work, on the grounds of gender, civil and family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race, and membership of the Travelling community.

If you are unable to work beyond 65, either physically or mentally, you are being discriminated against because of this physical or mental disability.

Disability includes physical, intellectual, learning, cognitive or emotional disabilities and a range of medical conditions. Discrimination is defined as less favourable treatment. An employee is discriminated against if they are treated less favourably than another employee is treated, has been treated, or would be treated.

Your pension is deferred pay, not some sort of a favour in the gift of the Government. Workers pay for it through PRSI deductions every week of our working lives. The pension rate should provide a living wage for people in their old age.

State pension: €13,156 per year

Minimum wage: €20,685 per year

Living wage: €24,944 per year

Taoiseach’s pension: €130,000 per year

A living wage is defined as the minimum income necessary for a worker to meet their basic needs. Needs are defined to include food, housing and other essentials, such as clothing. Ireland’s state pension is approximately half what is considered necessary to meet a person’s basic needs.

With $111,360 of GDP per capita, Ireland ranks second in the ten richest countries in the world, according to the IMF.

Part of this policy is that it gives people a “choice” to work longer if they want to. This is another three-card trick, as the choice is not there for people who cannot afford to retire on €253 a week. They are being forced to by economic reality. If the state wants to give workers the choice to work on till they are 70 there should be no financial incentive to do so. A decent pension should be provided for all citizens aged 65.

Maybe the state should go full circle and instead of extending the working age at the end of your life should do it at the beginning of it and bring back child labour. Don’t for a minute think they wouldn’t if they could get away with it. After all, the ending of child labour was forced by the trade union movement; and it wasn’t given up without a fight.

“I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, the food cheaper and the old men and old women warmer in the winter and happier in the summer.”—Brendan Behan.

*€203 × 52 = €10,556 job-seekers age 65+

€253 × 52 × 4 = €52,664 pension × 4

Total: €63,180 ÷ 62 = 1,019 weeks ÷ 52 = 19.6 years