Treating Our Senior Citizens With The Respect They Deserve
It has come to the attention of BU that a few companies in Barbados have been ‘firing’ long standing employees for questionable reasons. The objective behind what BU labels an unethical action is to avoid paying ‘severance’ to longstanding employees. In one case that we know of the person was employed at a St. Michael company for over 20 years. The only reason BU is withholding the name of the company is the reality it would prejudice the matter which is the subject of litigation for the employee involved. Regrettable the role of the unions in the current environment has become redundant. or so it seems.
There is another concern which BU has, here is a scenario:
My partner is rapidly approaching her 60th birthday and she wanted to find out what her options were for retiring (“comfortably”) when she attained that “wonderful” milestone. So with this in mind I went to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) Office and spoke with an officer. He explained to me that the earliest anyone could apply for an NIS pension was at age 60. However, he said, by the time my partner reaches 60 the official retirement age at that time would then be 67 years.
He continued to say that theoretically my partner could still opt for retirement at age 60 BUT would lose 6% for each year up to the age of 67. Some simple maths would reveal that at that point 42% of the total pension would be lost by ‘cashing in’ early.
Is this the result of a caring, considerate government for its senior citizens? Consider that at age 60 my partner (or most workers for that matter) would have been working and paying NIS contributions (and helping to build this country up) for 40 or more years (33+ with one company!) of their productive lives and because they would like to retire just 7 short years before the “official” limit that they stand to lose nearly 50% of the NIS pension that they would normally get at age 67! Can you actually believe that? Their pensions would now be cut by almost half because they are feeling a bit worn out and tired and wish to retire a bit before the “government” says that they should!! Is there any reason for penalising these older folk so drastically as they enter the “evening” of their lives? Don’t misunderstand me, I understand that one could not expect to receive the full amount of pension at an earlier retirement age but almost 50% less just for not working an additional 7 years!! Why such a drastic reduction?
The above scenario is one which is playing out everyday across Barbados. BU understands the pain of our senior citizens illustrated in the above scenario. Barbados is an ageing population and this reality has placed the NIS Fund under serious threat. Under the last government some actuarial work was done which informed the decision to shift the retirement age to 67. Harsh economic realities is making retirement for our senior citizens a very uncomfortable experience. Many have to life on inadequate pensions, work well into the time their feet should be “up” are in dire scenarios retreat to the District Hospitals. Modern societies in pursuit of ‘First World’ status are treating our senior citizens like ‘samon tot retrievers’.