Socialist Worker

Reject the pension deal

United strikes on 30 November last year saw millions of workers take action together. The day showed the potential that exists to smash the Tories’ assault on public sector pensions. But the Tories aren’t backing down. And there’s a debate within union

Issue No. 2286

They want us to retire into poverty

Under the Tory plans public sector workers will receive lower pensions when they finally retire—despite paying more into them. The average public sector pension is currently less than £100 a week.

And women working in local government get, on average, less than

£5 a day when they retire.

The Tories have already robbed millions from all public sector workers by changing the inflation rate that inflationary pension rises are linked to.

These rises will be linked to the CPI rate of inflation instead of the usually higher RPI one. The PCS union says that over a 20-year

retirement this will cut the value of a

pension by 20 percent.

They still want us all to pay more

The government’s “heads of agreement” will force all public sector workers to pay higher pension contributions. The Tories have offered to delay these increases for some groups, such as local government workers.

But they would still be forced to pay more after two years. And the government wants to impose higher contributions on most workers from April.

Public sector workers are enduring pay cuts or freezes while prices rise.

Increases in pension contributions will push some out of pension schemes altogether.

This will make the schemes more vulnerable—and create more

pensioner poverty.

They want us to work till we drop

The Tories’ latest offer would force millions of public sector workers to work longer.

The government wants to raise the retirement age to 66 by 2020 and ultimately to 68.

Its other changes, which will lower the value of pensions, will mean more people working longer because they can’t afford to retire.

This is one battle in a bigger war

Tory attacks on public sector pensions are part of a much broader assault on working class people.

The Tories want us all to suffer—whether it’s through worse pensions, lower benefits, cuts to jobs and services or forcing students to pay more for education.

Public sector workers are at the forefront of the battle against the Tories’ austerity programme.

If they beat the Tories over pensions it will give everyone else confidence to take them on too.

We have a right to decent pensions

Pensions are our deferred wages. They are accumulated by years of us paying money into them so that we can have a better retirement.

It’s our own money that the government wants to snatch away.

Fighting for pensions will protect future generations

The government’s current assault is bad enough.

But life will be even harder for future generations of workers if they get away with attacking workers today.

Stopping them now will also make it harder for private sector bosses to attack workers’ pensions.

Public sector workers aren’t responsible for poor private sector pensions. Bosses and the government are.

Private sector bosses are attacking pensions while the government refuses to pass laws that could protect them.

A victory in the public sector would encourage private sector workers to fight for better pensions too.

The money is there

The government says it has to “reform” public sector pensions because they are unaffordable.

It’s a lie.

The government’s own research shows that the cost of public sector pension schemes is falling and will continue to fall.

The Hutton Report published last year estimates the cost of public sector pensions as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). GDP is the value of all goods and services produced in a country over a year.

Hutton shows that the cost of public sector pensions has peaked and is now falling.

It estimates that public sector pensions will cost just 1.5 percent of GDP by 2060, compared with 1.9 percent today.

Research from the NUT union shows that workers have paid much more money into the Teachers Pension Scheme (TPS) than has been paid out.

Teachers have paid the equivalent of £46 billion more into the fund than it has paid out since the scheme was set up in 1923. The union adjusted the figures in line with GDP growth.

Even if the schemes were in deficit, the government would have no mandate for the cuts it wants to impose.

The extra money saved from its

pension reforms won’t even go to the pension schemes. It will go to the Treasury to cut the deficit that was caused by bailing out the banks.

The reforms are not about making the schemes “affordable”.

And no one is asking the rich to “work” longer or get lower pensions.v

We can win

The public sector strikes on

30 November were incredibly popular.

There was great enthusiasm for the action among strikers, who mounted big picket lines at many workplaces.

And they won lots of support.

Workers struck because they want to stop the Tories.

They didn’t see the action as a token gesture.

The Tories are desperate to end the dispute.

That’s why they tried to cobble together a shabby deal before Christmas and push union leaders to back it.

More united strikes can force the Tories to retreat.

That would seriously weaken the government—and make it harder for the Tories to ram through attacks on others.

Download this page www.socialistworker.co.uk/graphics/2012/keep/2286_08.pdf


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