Thursday, March 09, 2006

Older Workers, Unite!

The following comments were made by Brendan Barber, General Secretary of the British Trades Union Congress, in response to the government's publication of new anti-age discrimination laws:
"At the moment it's all too easy for employers to treat staff or job applicants unfairly either because they're young and seen as too inexperienced, or regarded as too old and over the hill. These new regulations will make the world of difference because they will force employers to treat workers of all ages fairly.

But the Government could have gone further, and we are disappointed that the regulations will see younger workers still being paid a lower minimum wage than their older workmates.

And on redundancy, it's a shame that the Government hasn't seen fit to bring all workers up to the higher rates of compensation that will continue to be paid out to older workers losing their jobs. All workers, regardless of their age, should get the same payment when they are unfortunate enough to be made redundant."

Ageism remains one of the few acceptable forms of discrimination in Britain, and no doubt in many other countries as well.

So this initiative by the Department of Work and Pensions, coming after a long consultation process, needs to be welcomed as a positive development. We must also remember that while many older women find it especially hard to gain viable employment, it remains to be seen whether women's issues are tackled in the final proposal.

Considering the recent publicity over the gender pay gap, it seems possibly that any omissions in the current plan will be rectified, but we cannot rely on that hope alone.

In other words: it's good start, but just a start.

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