Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Jobs for the Boys

At a meeting of Wellingborough Council's Resources Committee on Tuesday, Councillors voted to retire early a seniour member of staff on health grounds and make payments to their pension fund so they can receive a full pension immediately. This is OK and has been custom and practice for many years if a member of staff (in any grade or position) is ill and can no longer perform their duties effectively. It enables people approaching retirement age to leave the authority with dignity and enables the authority to recruit afresh someone who can perform the full duties of ther post.

On this occasion, however, the same report also recommended (and the Tories alone supported this) that the officer concerned be immediately re-employed (albeit on a part-time basis) to the job they had just been retired from and which had now, theoretically, become vacant. This offer of a job to the "retired" officer concerned will not be advertised, nor will anyone else be considered for it. So much for "apppointing the best person for the job".

It seems that all too often in our society those at the top of organisations, those in the know, those with power and influence, can both retire early (at great cost to the public purse) and then be immediately re-employed, or return as a "consultants" or in some other capacity. They not only draw an enhanced occupational pension at an earlier age, but can also now supplement that pension by returning to work.

If ordinary working people asked for this sort of treatment it would be laughed out of court. They would be accused of being "greedy", "holding the country to ransom" and all the other vitriol that is often directed at working people when they ask for pay increases (for example) that simply protect their standard of living.

Such double-standards also operate in the context of pensions more widely. Just as more and more employers say they "cannot afford" occupational, final-salary, pensions for their workers, these same employers continue to pay huge amounts of money into the final salary schemes for their Directors and senior managers, sometimes on significant enhanced terms - such as retirement on full salary after only 10 years in the job!

So, business as usual: one law for the rich and/or powerful and another for the poor and/or powerless; a superficial committment to "equal opportunties" for all combined with hypocracy and cant. So much for liberal capitalism - looks really like the old capitalsim to me!

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