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Working to 70 too hard a slog

Tuesday, 15th April, 2014

CFMEU Broken Hill Secretary Greg Braes CFMEU Broken Hill Secretary Greg Braes

By Erica Visser

With the federal government flagging the prospect of raising the pension age to 70, the local mining union has expressed concerns over workers’ ability to “push through” decades of long shifts and physical labour.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union’s (CFMEU) Broken Hill Secretary Greg Braes said that he was not in favour of increasing the retirement age, which is already set to become 67 within the next decade.

But 48-year-old Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey sparked discussion after he said that it’s likely that people his age would be forced to work until 70.

Mr Braes said that it would be difficult to expect people to stay in the mining industry up to that age.

However, he said, many people would not have much choice if the pension age were increased once again.

“If you took a young fellow who went into the mining game in his early 20s and was working until 70 then that’s quite a hard slog,” Mr Braes said.

“There’s a few people up there now that are over 60 but I’m sure once you get to that age you’re starting to think about retirement.

“You’re operating machinery for extended hours, for both day and night shifts, and for 12 hours at a time.”

Mr Braes said that workers’ quality of life following retirement may be affected.

“I’m sure a lot of people would like to think they’ll still be in a reasonable, healthy state where they could do travelling and enjoy themselves after retiring.

“It just seems to be making it harder and harder. I’m not in favour of it.”

Federal Member for Farrer Sussan Ley said that an ageing population was a reality the government could not ignore.

“Our government, and previous governments over a number of years, have been facing the increasing challenge of an ageing population,” she said in a statement.

“As the treasurer noted at the weekend, while celebrating the fact we’re all living longer, we also need to adapt the country’s welfare, healthcare and education systems to manage this, allowing a decent quality of life along the way.

“The retirement age is already set to climb from 65 to 67 from 2023. 

“The treasurer has simply said it’s probably time we had a sensible discussion on the long term challenges of our ageing population and this changing workforce demographic.

“There’s no point pretending it’s not happening or doing nothing, so I certainly believe that conversation is worth having.”

However, Ms Ley said that pensioners would be better off under the government’s plans to scrap the carbon tax.

“Not only will households be better off but the pension increases designed to offset the impact of the carbon tax will be left untouched.”

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