Tory ministers meet any complaint about their assault on public sector pensions with the line: “But it’s worse for workers in the private sector.” But public sector workers’ pensions are not responsible for poor pensions in the private sector.
To begin with, public sector workers don’t get “gold-plated” pensions. The average is around £4,000 a year. For some low-paid women it falls to just £1,600. And workers have paid their own money into the schemes for the years—pensions are deferred wages, not optional bonuses.
If the government really cares about private sector workers, why doesn’t it bring in laws to force bosses to give decent pension schemes? Or why not raise the state pension to protect those who have no pension at all?
In fact the Tories are quite happy for workers to spend their old age in poverty—whichever sector they worked in. Ian is an electrician in London. He told Socialist Worker why he is cheering the strikers on. “It shouldn’t be a case of having a race to the bottom,” he said.
“It’s true that lots of private sector pensions have been driven down. But the answer isn’t to make public sector pensions worse. If public sector workers win their dispute, it will give confidence to others to fight back too.”