Retirement age changes 'unfair'

Most Conservative supporters believe it is unfair to make British people work longer for their state pension than their European counterparts, according to a new poll.

A survey of more than 1,700 adults commissioned by three leading trade unions showed a clear majority were "uncomfortable" with plans to increase the retirement age.

The study comes ahead of a strike on Thursday by civil servants, lecturers, health workers, Ministry of Defence staff, immigration officers, off-duty police officers and members of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary as part of the bitter dispute over the Government's controversial public sector pension reforms.

Almost four out of five of those questioned, and seven in 10 Tory voters, agreed that making Britons work longer than European workers to receive their state pension was unfair.

The YouGov poll, commissioned by Unite, the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union and the National Union of Teachers (NUT), also showed a majority believed that any attempt to continue to raise the state pension age will hit the poorest pensioners hardest.

More than a third of Conservative voters were also concerned that delaying retirement would mean fewer jobs for younger people and deny working people the opportunity to enjoy a well-earned retirement.

A similar number of Tory supporters, as well as a third of Liberal Democrat supporters and 37% of Labour supporters, were unaware of plans to make people work longer.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS, said: "In an economy that can afford tax breaks for the very rich, it ought to be a national scandal that the rest of us are being forced to work so much longer. Instead of making people work until they drop, we should be giving them dignity in their retirement, and rather than abandoning pensioners to poverty, we should provide a decent state pension that they can live on."

Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, said: "This Government is determined to strip workers of the entitlement to a retirement that is dignified. We must be equally determined to stand together and ensure we defend a decent retirement age for all workers. It is simply not feasible for the majority of people to be working beyond 68. It is certainly not in the interest of employees or of young people who will be squeezed out of the job market."

Unite's leader, Len McCluskey, added: "Making British people work until they drop is another hijacking of our living standards and shows no care for the lives of ordinary people. How can it be that the seventh richest nation on the planet denies its people a healthy retirement? This is not the sort of achievement any government can be proud of. This is unpopular, impractical and will strain our society. The Government must rethink and do so now."