Socialist Worker

Union leaders must not accept rotten compromise

Issue No. 2001

The proposals leaked from Labour’s pensions White Paper were denounced by pensioner activists and some union leaders.

Joe Harris, National Pensioners Convention general secretary, said, “The reality is that if the link with earnings was restored in 2012 it would add just £1.40 a week more than pensioners would get anyway under present arrangements.

“For the link to have any meaningful effect it must firstly be applied to a higher state pension because 10 percent of nothing is still nothing.

“If the government also only restore the link for some older people and not others, it will be extremely divisive and unpopular, creating two classes of pensioner with the gap between the haves and the have nots growing wider every year.

“The best way to tackle pensioner poverty is to raise the basic state pension to at least £114 a week, then restore its link to earnings and pay it equally to all men and women.”

Paul Kenny, GMB general secretary, said, “The idea that the labour movement will trade the introduction of the earnings link in six years time in return for a higher state pension age for the next generation is simply ludicrous and unacceptable.

“We must not lose sight of the fact that the reason we have struggled for 25 years to get back the link between pensions and earnings is to improve the lot of pensioners.

“This plan does nothing for today’s pensioners.

“Many people will not be fortunate enough to live to 68 to collect their pensions, so GMB will not accept raising the state retirement age.”

Those words need to be turned into action by the GMB and other unions such as the T&G, led by Tony Woodley who has often spoken out for pension justice.

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Sat 20 May 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2001
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