Raising the retirement age What the people say about...
By Andre Haynes
Stabroek News
December 15, 2003

Related Links: Articles on stuff
Letters Menu Archival Menu

For their reactions, we talked to members of the public about the recommendation that the retirement age in Guyana be raised from 55 years to 60, as obtains in other countries in the region.

Kenneth King - retiree: `I feel the age of retirement should remain at 55. I don't think it should be raised. For the simple reason that there are so many people out of employment and as fast as you can get people to come out you can have other people to fill the gap. Other Caricom countries can afford to have the higher retirement age because they have higher employment rates. Regardless of our commitments to Caricom, if the country can't afford to raise it, we shouldn't. If the country had done justice many, many years ago by allowing all the Caribbean people to come, without being singled out, we would not be in the position where we desperately need their skills and their ideas. At one point everyone wanted to come here, because Guyana had everything. We had the products and the opportunity. Now, you call Guyana's name, people are afraid. They are writing and asking if it is safe to come to Guyana now.'

Odetta Bailey - teacher: `I believe we are being robbed. The retirement age should be 65, like it was before. At 55 many people are still able to work and might find the retired life boring, not doing anything. People can still work competently at that age. When my father retired while the retirement age was 65, we had to find something for him to do. Although lowering the retirement age might create more vacancies for young people, with the situation we are in we have to realise that the next generation is growing everyday and we need to have more job opportunities for them around the country. Even at 55 we already have an unemployment problem.'

Sham Juman - teacher: `I think 55 years is reasonable. But if they do decide to raise it, workers should get better remuneration as an incentive to stay on. And after retirement, better compensation. Old age pension is a pittance. Just imagine, I have a friend who gets one thousand and something a month. That is why the public servants should get a reasonable remuneration. The inflation rate and their pay increases should always go hand in hand. We have trained people but we are losing them. You have to look at the push factors and the pull factors. The people are not getting money and the people on the other side are paying.'

C. Simon - retiree: `It should be lowered. I became a GDF pensioner at 40. That was the retirement age. But the pension that I get from the GDF, is not enough and I need something to do. But there is very little work around. I realise that if they lower the age it will get rid of some people and give the younger people a chance.

Although many of the older workers do better work than young people. Some of the young people can't even write properly. Still, I think 40-45 should be the retirement age. If there is no movement at the top there will just be a stagnation in the work force. Take the commissioner of Police as an example. He goes on after retirement and there could be a man burning at the bottom with all the qualifications.'

Farah Goberdhan - student: `It all depends on the health of the individual, the physical and mental. If the person is healthy and they can continue after 55, fine. No. I don't think it should be 40. People at that age still want to go on and are still interested in working. There are people, there are teachers, who I know are working after they would have retired. They are still capable of doing it. They could increase the retirement age but it still depends on their health.'

Danielle Duncan-Boston - nurse: `I think we should raise it. Young people, we don't have a lot of focus. They say that today's young people are tomorrow's leaders. If they are, then we are heading down the drain. When some people reach the retirement age they are still capable of doing the work. They retire good people and it is sometimes difficult to find the people to replace them. Also, look at our economic situation. With the pension that we are paying, retired people can't survive. There is a retired headmistress who is now standing outside (a city store), begging. What is she to do? And the private sector does not want these people, with their old world attitudes, which is bad. I think the government has to cater for them, while also making a place for younger persons who need jobs.'

Edward Luke King - craftsman: `It should be remembered that there are older people who can do some jobs so much better than the younger ones. When people reach the age of 55, there is nobody to do anything for them. Do you believe the pension is adequate for living? Right now a lot of retired people are going to work as security guards, because they need the money. I believe they need to put mechanisms in place for these retirees, like they do for children and other special groups. Get them occupied. They have nothing to do. I think they could retest them when they reach 55 to see if they can still do the work. If they are not, then send them on their way. But most are more competent than the younger ones who can't even spell their names.'

Aileen Hintzen - retired teacher: `The retirement age should be 55, I don't think it should be raised. When you reach 55, remember there are other people who are waiting in line and you could be hindering promotion. Forty is too young. You have a lot of energy, many people are still capable of doing their jobs. Even now there are a lot of people over 55 who are working. There are two ways that you can look at it. You could retire at 55 but you may have the expertise that they need. The advantage, though, of retiring, let's say at 40, is you could go to another country and work and earn another pension. But that is only an advantage for people who leave like the teachers and nurses.'

Keith Roberts - student: `I believe they should raise the retirement age. There are people who go back to school late, they get their qualifications late in life. They can't get jobs. But these people, maybe they couldn't afford an education earlier, have the qualifications and can do the job. Right now, the qualifications that employers ask for are high. Some people pass the CXCs with Grade Twos, but employers are asking for Grade Ones. And instead of lowering the age for those young people who need jobs, I think they should set up education facilities to help them get qualified.'

Dacia Gordon - unemployed: `It should be higher. I know of a man who reached the retirement age and they had to rehire him and pay him more because there is nobody to replace him. When you consider lowering it to make room for younger people, it's still a 50/50 situation, because we'll still have a lot of people who are capable without anything to do.'