Plans to increase the pension age have been slammed by trade unions for causing unnecessary strain on ageing mine workers.
The Federal Government is hoping to increase the pension age from 65 to 67 by 2023 to counteract higher pension allowances that were recently announced in the Budget.
The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) say it is “unpalatable” to expect miners to work to 67, and say the increase will only lead to more compensation claims from older workers.
The national secretary of the CFMEU John Sutton said a large number of miners have worked in the industry for 50 years by the time they reach 65 and are more susceptible to injuries from long-term hard labour.
“If they really are going to be telling people at 65 and 66 they’ve got to work on in manual industries then I anticipate a hell of a lot of injuries and a hell of a lot of downtime,” he said. “This decision needs a serious rethink.”
Treasurer Wayne Swan said increasing the pension age is “essential” to ensure the long-term viability of Australia’s workforce and is a “responsible reform” to meet the challenge of an ageing population.
“Life expectancy has grown by over 20 years since it was set over 100 years ago and there are now twice as many people reaching pension age and staying there for twice as long,’ he said.
The CFMEU and AMWU have written to the Federal Government and are threatening a showdown on the floor of the Labor Party national conference in July.