'Old' civil servants face axe

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The Independent Online
A Government department that launched a campaign against "ageism" in the workplace is getting rid of thousands of its own staff years before they are due to retire.

The Department for Education and Employment, which has been running a Campaign for Older Workers since 1993, is forcing low-paid civil servants to quit when they reach 60.

The pretext given, often years ahead, is that there will not be any work for them when they reach that age.

One worker at the Employment Service in south London was called in for interview by a manager and told that "retention beyond age 60 is dependent on business volumes and there can be no guarantee that we will be able to continue your employment beyond your 60th birthday".

The man will not be 60 until 1998, but he was told he would have to go on that date. The Employment Service (motto: "Investor in People") made him sign a declaration that he had attended "an age review interview". He was required to accept that it was "highly unlikely" that he would be retained after he turned 60.

Similar letters have gone out to several thousand civil servants, according to Clive Brooke, joint general secretary of the Public Services, Tax and Commerce Union. "There is a lot of anger about this. It is double standards on the part of government. Ministers are speaking with forked tongues. They are doing the opposite of what they preach."

As recently at May, Employment Minister Cheryl Gillan was praising the Government's Campaign for Older Workers, which urges employers "to recruit, train and retain workers on merit, regardless of age".

She added: "Age has no bearing on a person's ability to a good job." Except, that is, in her department, which has shed 570 staff in the second quarter of this year alone.