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Dublin: 3 °C Tuesday 18 February, 2020
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Opinion: Signing on the dole as a pensioner was a horrible experience

They sent me to a workshop where I had to say I was interested in jobs, writes Sue Redmond, a retired health worker.

Sue Redmond

I HAVE WORKED all my life.

For 20 of those years, I worked in a department at a major hospital in Dublin.

It was a job I really enjoyed and I was good at.

In 2017, my contract stated that I had to retire at 65, but I wanted to stay on for a further year.

I was told by my employer, however, that I would have to give up my role as a team leader and be interviewed for a new job, earning less money, and I would be required on an ‘if and when’ basis.

This meant management at my work would only call me in when they wanted me, meaning I could be working sporadically in whatever way suited the department.

To be honest, this really wasn’t practical.

shutterstock_626388572 Redmond worked as a team leader in the Sterile Service Department of a major hospital in Dublin. Source: Shutterstock/sfam_photo

Shock to the system

When I finished working, I had to go down and sign on the dole and apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance.

I had to tell the staff there that I was looking for work or they wouldn’t process my claim.

This experience made me feel absolutely horrible. You are asked all sort of questions and must bring in bank statements and other documents.

I never had to go through anything like this before in my life. They ask you what type of work you want, and I told them that I would look for anything, so they put me down for shop work.

90165272 Pensioners are upset about the increase in the retirement age, which means they must sign on for unemployment assistance until they reach the required age. Source: /Photocall Ireland

They really made me feel down. I have paid my taxes all my life and I felt I had earned a secure retirement.

Shortly after, the dole office sent me to workshops and I had to go around all the desks to say I was interested in various types of jobs.

It was a really horrible experience, particularly after you have worked all your life and then you’re put through this after you have retired.

Feeling angry

I think it is a disgrace that the Government wants to increase the retirement age to 67.

It was bad enough for me to be put through all that for one year and now they will expect people to do it for two years – to go until they are 67.

These people will be on less money than a pension and they will also have to say they are looking for work.

Many people out there are just not able to work beyond 65 because of the physical and mental demands of their jobs, and trying to push them to do that is bad for them and their workplaces.

If people feel they can work longer it should be their choice.

I feel so strongly about this injustice that I have been working hard to campaign with SIPTU to make Fine Gael’s plan to raise the pension age to 67 one of the major issues of this election campaign, and I think it’s working.

The ‘STOP67’ SIPTU campaign to halt the increase in the state pension age is being supported by groups including Age Action, The National Women’s Council of Ireland and Active Retirement Ireland.

Sue Redmond is a pensioner and a former health worker.

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About the author:

Sue Redmond

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