LABOUR was set to announce on Thursday of this week that it was going to ruin the old age of millions of workers. The government plans to increase the retirement age of public sector workers from 60 to 65 and scrap the final salary pension scheme, which guarantees workers security in their old age.
Thousands of low paid workers, particularly women, now face poverty in their old age after working until they drop to get their pensions.
Dave Prentis, general secretary of the Unison union, and GMB union leaders have pledged to oppose these attacks. Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of the PCS civil service workers’ union, has called for a public sector wide strike against any such attacks.
This is not just happening in the public sector. Almost 500 factory workers at the former Carpets International plant in Newbridge, South Wales, have lost up to 60 percent of their pensions after the company stopped paying into their scheme before going bust.
This common attack needs a common response from all the unions. It is great news that unions like the GMB are talking about balloting to defend our rights.
A PCS member in a small, traditionally non-militant office said that people were going mad when they heard about the plans this week. They were asking when they were going on strike.
It is essential that the unions take action regardless of next year’s expected general election. Some union leaders may think that sitting in cosy rooms with Gordon Brown will get them somewhere.
But that has not borne any fruit so far. In fact, things have got worse. It is crucial that we oppose the government. The next term of a Labour government could be the worst of the lot for the public sector—through job cuts, attacks on conditions and privatisation.
We have to send a message that Labour can’t get away with this. What is required is a strike right across the public sector. It is only through common action that we will defeat these attacks.