The government and unions will soon begin talks about the detail of the framework for public sector pensions that was agreed recently.
There are signs that a tough battle is looming. Trade secretary Alan Johnson told the Times, “The Confederation of British Industry has said that a 20 year old now will still be able to retire at 60, but 95 percent of 20 year olds in the civil service will leave by the time they are 60, 40 percent have gone by the time they are 30.”
The speed of turnover means the government believes it will take £13 billion from workers in the next 50 years. But more cuts are coming. In talks beginning next month the government wants further savings.
It was wrong for the union leaders to accept the framework agreement. Trade unionists should oppose both any specific further cuts, the framework itself, and the fact that over one million local government workers still have no deal at all.
Tony Blair’s plans for an assault on pensions and welfare hit an unexpected hurdle last week after senior civil servants blocked his attempt to move a Downing Street adviser into the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Sir Richard Mottram, until recently permanent secretary at the department, objected to the appointment of Gareth Davies, a Number 10 official regarded as a “welfare hawk”.
Despite this Blair has not backed off. Davies will return to Downing Street and continue to advise new DWP secretary John Hutton from there.