Socialist Worker

We must throw out this shabby pensions deal

by Chris Bambery, Socialist Worker editor
Issue No. 1973

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has agreed to increase the pension age for many future public sector workers from 60 to 65.

In cahoots with the New Labour government, TUC leader Brendan Barber agreed that in future health, education and civil service workers will no longer be allowed to retire at 60 on a full pension.

Instead they will have to work five more years until they are 65 — or they can pay over the odds to gain their freedom.

This will open the floodgates to increasing the pension age across Britain. All the evidence shows that the later people retire, the less likely they are to survive any significant length of time.

The fig leaf which hides this abject capitulation is that present workers will be allowed to cease work at 60, and future workers can also retire at 60 but with a much smaller pension.

The government has conceded over present workers in order to hammer the rest for ever and a day. The TUC has brokered this shoddy deal with the government behind the backs of the workers concerned.

The deal will create a division in every hospital, school and office whereby some workers can retire at 60 while their younger colleagues will work until 65.

It will divide the best paid workers (who may still go at 60 on a reduced but just adequate pension) from the worst paid workers (who have no choice but to go on to 65).

Brendan Barber has also broken the united stand of the unions by agreeing to a deal that covers health, education and the civil service, but leaves local government workers in the lurch.

Speaking before this deal was announced, John McDermott, a member of the Unison union’s national executive, explained to Socialist Worker, “In local government the employers want to remove the ‘rule of 85’, which allows local government workers with 25 years’ service to retire at 60 with a full pension.

“They also want to increase the amount that workers pay into their pensions by 1 percentage point next year, and another the year after that.”

Brendan Barber says the unions involved will have to consult their members on whether to surrender their pension rights.

Trade unionists should meet immediately to organise resistance to this deal, bombarding their head offices with messages of protest and demanding there should be a proper ballot.

Millions of workers were and still are ready to fight over pensions — which the government recognised in making the paltry concessions it has offered.

And we should redouble our efforts to build Respect as a political alternative.

It is the deadly embrace between union leaders and Labour that leads to them putting the interests of ministers before those of their members.


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News
Sat 22 Oct 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1973
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