Value older workers and make a grey future bright

Morag Houston
Morag Houston

We need to value our older workers and make sure that they can continue to contribute their experience and knowledge to the world of work at the same time as enjoying a life work balance.

The STUC will press for smarter ways of working, flexibility and reduction of hours and tasks to support older workers who choose to stay in work and will resist any further increases in the state pension age.

UNISON’s Morag Houston supported the motion from the Society of Radiographers and told Congress that she was here to praise older workers and their contributions, skills and experience, as workers and as parents and grandparents.

“Whether you are actually young, or, like me, young at heart, we all need to stand up together for everyone’s pension rights and for decent work that takes account of age and health and caring responsibilities.”

She spoke of UNISON’s research last year which shows that around 40% of the public sector workforce are likely to retire within ten years. In the wider workforce, one in three workers will be over the age of 50 by 2020. She warned that employers must address workforce planning urgently.

“We must campaign for, negotiate and win strong policies to protect our pensions, our rights and our health at work,” said Morag, confirming UNISON’s support for the WASPI women fighting against pensions inequality, and pledging to totally oppose any further increase in state pension age.

“Workplaces need to be redesigned for this. Just as we are trying, though not there yet by any means, to make work life balance better for parents, which helps employers retain trained, skilled workers.”

Morag called for sickness absence and other policies to reflect different health and sickness patterns, and to deal with workplace dementia, which is on the increase.

She called for more flexible retirement policies with financially realistic options for part-time and reduced hours as well as late career changes, particularly for people in physically demanding jobs; alongside revised health and safety and carers policies.

“Smarter ways of working must be part of a culture change that values and supports older workers,” urged Morag.

“It’s a time of life when we have a huge contribution to make, with valuable skills and experience that employers need.

“We can help make a grey future bright.”

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