Thursday, October 27, 2005

public sector pensions

The whole public sector pensions issue is a very sore point for me.
Just to clarify, I am a retired member of Unison. I am very fortunate to be in receipt of a pension under the existing local government scheme. This has allowed me to live without anxiety, though certainly not in opulence.
However my sore point is that the people I formerly worked with, and others yet to begin public sector employment, are to be disadvantaged due to governmental interference and the connivance of union bureaucracy.
In addition I particularly hate the campaign to divide the country's workers into public and private sector, where the private sector is perceived to be worse off as result of the public sector pension scheme. During a television interview Digby-Jones, the pompous fat greedy capitalist bastard who represents other pompous fat greedy capitalist bastards, stated that it was unfair for private sector workers to be asked to work for longer than public sector workers prior to reaching pensionable age. Strangely I agree, but the solution does not have to be for public sector workers to work longer. The retirement age for private sector workers should be reduced. With an equitable shareout of the obscene profits made by him and his kind, there is more than enough wealth to fund this outcome and give workers their dues.
The current deal recently announced on public sector pensions does not apply to local government workers, only health workers, civil servants and education are affected. Unison and the fire-fighters are negotiating separately. I don't hold out much hope for a decent outcome if union leadership is left to its own devices during these negotiations. Prentis, the Unison leader, is a stereotypical middle class man in a suit union bureaucrat. He probably thinks more about the honours list than his members who pay his fat salary.
I took part in the February protests when the government originally announced their attack on pensions. In March my partner and I spent a few frantic days stuffing envelopes in the union office to finally beat a deadline to get information out to members for forthcoming action. Unfortunately Prentis fell for the government's pre-election prevent industrial action at any costs scam and it was all a waste of time.
All I can say is watch this space. The fight goes on, not from the upper echelons, but from the grassroots. Prentis will be creaming himself in glory if he gets the same deal as is on offer to the others, but it does not protect his members rights. Nor does it create a platform for private sector workers to enjoy the same pension rights as public sector employees have enjoyed in the past.
The pension age thing is also just the first foray.
The next line of attack has already been announced. It's the assessment of pension - final salary schemes will be targeted to be replaced by average earnings. This is crap, my initial pay in 1970 was £10 per week, and it took rampant inflation to bring my earnings up to £30 a week some years later. This would have a catastrophic effect on my pension if taken into account.
Next on the list is contribution percentage. Employee contributions will increase, whilst the employer's levy will reduce.
They will also attack enhanced pension rights for those whom they have incapacitated through their shite employment practices and conditions - those who retire through ill health.
The message from the government and their masters is clear, look after yourselves and don't affect profits. And yes profitability will be an issue as they continue to privatise public services. Or should I say subsidise private enterprise with public money. Remember, public money is derived from taxpayers, and that means the workers - the rich bastards have all the lawyers and accountants to make tax avoidance an artform.
(Please note these comments are made from a mainstream union perspective, not a revolutionary view on the future of society.)

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