- 2011 Water, Environment & Transport Service Group
- 28 February 2011
With this current Government being hellbent in increasing retirement ages until we drop, companies in the Water, Environment and Transport sector like others may invoke ‘capability’ to get rid of older workers. They tend to be higher paid with better terms and conditions and more likely to ‘challenge the system’ than younger workers.
All workers will be affected but in the water industry we employ field based operatives where physical strength, driving long distances, working unsocial hours, working at heights and in confined spaces are major requirements of the job. This also applies to transport workers and groups within the EA. All of these abilities deteriorate as we get older. It is particularly difficult to make reasonable adjustments or have flexibility of working hours for field workers and they generally do not adapt well to office working even if the jobs are there.
Those with no final salary pension fund will be more reliant on the state pension and will therefore have no choice but to work until they are old enough to draw it. Although we are campaigning and hope to reverse this deplorable state of affairs, in the meantime we must look after older workers. To prevent stewards on zimmer frames spending all their time accompanying members also on zimmer frames into sickness absence reviews many alterations will need to be made in the workplace. Older workers will require many more reasonable adjustments to be made, more flexible working patterns as they will be carers for older partners and other elderly relatives. Absenteeism triggers will also need to be relaxed. Because of the proven health risks associated with long-time nightworking, particularly breast cancer in women, shift patterns will need to be restructured.
It is therefore easy to see why getting rid of older workers may seem an attractive option to some companies and the unions need to be on their guard for this.
Conference calls upon the Water, Environment and Transport Executive to liaise with all branches in the sector and any other relevant bodies so we can coordinate our efforts to change our Company Procedures and make them more fit for purpose.
Yorkshire Water Branch