Socialist Worker

United fight can defeat the Tories

Issue No. 2242

We are being attacked on all fronts. Now the Tories are after the pensions of some six million public sector workers.

The proposals in Lord Hutton’s pensions report will mean that some of the lowest paid workers will contribute more to their pension for longer.

And they will receive less when they eventually retire.

Everyone’s pension has already been cut by the government’s decision to tie increases to the lower estimate of inflation—the consumer price index—rather that the higher retail price index.

Bosses want us to see pensions as an optional bonus that can be grabbed back whenever they choose.

But they are workers’ deferred wages or savings.

Today bosses gamble these precious pension contributions in the casino that is the stock market.

Workers do not benefit from higher payouts when the gambles make profits—bosses simply contribute less. But when the bets lose, workers are forced to pay.

Pensions should not be reliant on the madness of the market—the money is there to pay decent pensions for all workers when they retire.

We can stop these attacks.

The fight over pensions has the potential to unite workers in a struggle against the government.

In 2006 more than 1.5 million workers went on strike to defend pensions. Hutton’s proposals would rip up the agreement reached with the unions after that fight.

These new attacks on pension rights need to be met with a massive and united response from the trade union movement.

Activists everywhere should put pressure on their trade union leaders to meet and call urgent co-ordinated action.

This could win solidarity across the working class.

Public sector workers provide essential services for millions of ordinary people. People know that an attack on one is an attack on us all.

The Tories say they will give their response to the Hutton report after the budget and the TUC demonstration on the 26 March.

This shows that they are worried about what the reaction from the unions will be.

Let’s give them reason to be worried.

The 26 March looks set to be monster demonstration against the government.

Hundreds of thousands from all over the country plan to take to the streets of London.

In some towns all the available coaches have been hired—people are coming by every means possible.

There is only two weeks to go until the protest.

Every activist needs to go all out to bring the biggest possible numbers with them to march.

The Tories need to see the mass power of the working class movement on the streets.

And the bigger the protest the greater the confidence workers will have to push for united strikes against the government in the weeks that follow.

Lies about pensions

  • Women local government workers get £1,600 pension on average.
  • The government has already cut 25 percent from public sector pensions by changing the way increases are calculated.
  • Chancellor George Osborne wants to increase employee pension contributions by around 3 percent —effectively a wage cut.
  • Private sector pensions are worse than public ones, but we should fight for decent pensions for all.
  • Ending the “Fair Deal” scheme for workers transferred from the public sector to private will open up workers’ pensions to further attacks.
  • Hutton is proposing the government scraps final salary pension schemes. The alternative is based on average wages and hits low-paid workers hardest.
  • The richest 1 percent in society get £10 billion in tax relief on their pensions a year. Bosses retire earlier with huge pensions—tax free.
  • Life expectancy for working class people has risen by less than two years since the 1970s. For some it hasn’t changed at all.

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Article information

What We Think
Sat 12 Mar 2011, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 2242
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