The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that the UK’s compulsory retirement age does not necessarily breach age discrimination legislation (Case C-388/07 of 5 March 2009).
The ECJ says that the age limit is legal if it is there for a “legitimate social policy objective” relating to employment policy, labour market or vocational training. UK courts must now decide whether that legitimate objective exists.
Heyday, an organisation of the UK charity Age Concern, had brought an action to have the compulsory retirement age of 65 declared illegal on the basis that it breaches age discrimination legislation.
A compulsory retirement age is an infringement of our liberty. Why can we not retire when it suits us? Why allow the state to tell us when we must become inactive?
The ECJ’s reasoning seems to be inspired by the classical socialist conviction that it is legitimate to abolish individuals’ freedoms as long as it is in the “common interest” – however spurious that common interest may be. In this case it is apparently hunky-dory to take jobs from the elderly in the faint hope that these jobs will revert to the young. Never mind the sprightly 65 year old who has far more to offer. Never mind condemning pensioners to state handouts now that Gordon Brown’s economic disaster is evaporating their savings (cynics will say that making individuals dependent upon state handouts rather than own efforts has always been Labour party policy).
Redistribution of jobs over generations is based on the socialist concept of a finite economy.
Socialists believe the total wealth is a pie which they will distribute more equitably – Conservatives believe the pie can be made to grow. So it is with jobs: socialists want to redistribute them – Conservatives allow the market to create more jobs.
Perhaps counter-intuitively, redistribution does not only re-allocate. It also tends to shrink the total offer. France introduced the 35 hour week, hoping this would create extra jobs for the young. The scheme did nothing of the sort and now the 35 hour week is consigned to the dustbin of history. Countries with the longest working hours and the longest careers usually have the lowest unemployment rates.
Philosophically a compulsory retirement age would fall foul of John Locke’s right to property (individuals being the owners of their own person; which includes the fruits of their labour).
Thank you, Age Concern, for bringing this action.
Cllr JP Floru
European Parliamentary Candidate London 2009