Pension looms large for a generation of working women

WITH just $39,700 in superannuation socked away after more than 40 years in the workforce, Kerrie Eather is typical of a generation of women who are desperately trying to accumulate more super before they retire.

WITH just $39,700 in superannuation socked away after more than 40 years in the workforce, Kerrie Eather is typical of a generation of women who are desperately trying to accumulate more super before they retire.

Until Mrs Eather was laid off following an accident this year, she had been making weekly contributions of $50 to her superannuation.

At that rate, she calculated she would have about $60,000 when she retired. Even then, she knew she would have to keep working during retirement, realising life on the pension would not allow for weekends away or holidays.

Mrs Eather, 59, is reluctant to criticise the Gillard government's decision to cap super top-ups by the over-50s to $25,000, instead of the $50,000 it had promised. But she says superannuation for women like her is a "joke" and she is frustrated the government is not doing more to help workers reduce their reliance on the pension.

According to the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia, the average superannuation of a woman of Mrs Eather's age is $90,783, while the average man has $112,632. Yet 60 per cent of women aged 65 to 69 have none.

Before her husband died last year, Mrs Eather would have never considered herself to be one of the working poor. Now, she does.

"I am typical of the women I know," she said.

"Most of my friends are widows or women in their early 60s who have had children, taken time out and really don't have much super. They are the working poor."

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