Blue collar timescapes: work, health, and pension eligibility age for mature age Australian bus drivers

Christine LaBond, Cathy Banwell*, Melanie Pescud, Tinh Doan, Lyndall Strazdins

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    Assumptions about time, value, labour, and health coalesce in the policy decision to extend the pension eligibility age in Australia from 65 to 67 years. Acknowledging the multiple, often incompatible ways in which time is conceptualised and experienced, we question the expectation of extending Australians’ working lives. Drawing on semi-structured interviews with 19 male and female bus drivers over the age of 55 in Australia, we illustrate that older blue collar workers may accumulate chronic health conditions that not only limit their ability to maintain the strict time-discipline required to remain in the workforce, but also introduce demands on their time beyond paid employment (including those required for the management of chronic health conditions). Poor health, and the multiple ways in which it constrains labour participation and time, fosters diverse, unequal, and uneven experiences of the final years of work for these blue collar workers, which may not allow them to meet the policy expectation to work until the age of 67. We argue that by failing to acknowledge the long-term health effects of blue collar work and its work-limiting bodily effects, raising the pension age devalues industrial work histories and manual labour. Finally, acknowledging the social milestone of retirement, we question the moral dimensions of extending the pension eligibility age.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)392-401
    Number of pages10
    JournalCritical Public Health
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2022


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