The “concessions” offered by the government to trade unions today are absolutely no basis for settling the pensions dispute.
It is more important than ever that everyone throws themselves into building the strike votes, demonstrations and wider solidarity for a mass strike on 30 November.
For many months the unions have campaigned against the government’s proposals because they mean workers will pay more to build up their pensions, will have to work up to eight years longer in order to receive them, and will then see them eroded by inflation because the coalition government has implemented a new and lower measure for their uprating.
None of these three fundamentals are affected by the proposals made today. The only movement is over the proportion of salary added each year to determine the size of the final salary pension. And even here all the government is doing is to withdraw one of the attacks it unveiled recently!
It is therefore a lie for the government to suggest that the pensions of low-paid workers will be as good as they would have been before. They will work longer to get them, and they will be smaller when (or if) they live long enough to collect them.
Such “concessions” are a drop in the ocean which could be accepted only by those who have lost all confidence in the strength of workers to resist injustice.
The Tories and their Lib Dem allies are determined to make workers pay for the crisis caused by the bankers and the bosses. The pension changes taken together are designed to rob some £10 billion from workers every year. This is not because the schemes are “unsustainable”—they are in order to reduce the deficit caused by bailing out the bosses.
It is a disgrace that instead of dismissing the government’s insult, TUC leader Brendan Barber has said that unions should now go away and consider whether this is enough to call off what should be the biggest strike since 1926.
Instead of dividing the resistance in this way, it’s time to unite the resistance.
Trade union leaders should be exposing the reality of the pension changes and campaigning against them as part of a broader fightback against the Tories’ assault on welfare, services, pay and jobs.
Across the globe—from Egypt to Greece, from Portugal to Chile, from the United States to St Paul’s Cathedral—people are resisting the rule of profit. The pension strike on 30 November can be a hugely important leap forward in building the struggle here against the Tory-Lib Dem coalition.
And instead of denouncing the strikes, Labour Party leaders ought to be supporting them.
We urge everyone to come to the Unite the Resistance convention in London on 19 November (www.uniteresist.org) and to keep building for 30 November.
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