Blair’s great pensions robbery

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LABOUR’S ‘pensions revolution’ is a major attack on the working class, the elderly and the youth.

The origin of the ‘revolution’ is not that the elderly are living much longer, so all the coming generations will have to work for much longer to keep them. The origin of the pensions crisis is the rapidly developing crisis of capitalism, and the way that this is bankrupting industries, destroying private pension schemes and driving on capitalist governments to slash state expenditure at all costs.

As far as current pensioners are concerned, millions of them will be dead before the state pension is index-linked with average wage rises.

This is scheduled to take place ‘probably’ in 2012. The fact that the Chancellor will not tolerate index linking in 2006, is a barometer of the desperate state of British capitalism, as is the fact that women will have to wait until 2010 until they are guaranteed a full state pension.

With the age for receipt of the state pension due to rise from 65 to 66 in 2024, from 66 to 67 in 2034, and from 67 to 68 in 2044, all those age 47 or under are being put on notice that they are about to have their lives changed for the worse.

They will have to work longer, pay more, and many more of them will get less or nothing at all – since the average life span for male workers in cities like Glasgow is 67 years.

Many of those who do live to enjoy the state pension will also be much poorer, because of the collapse of final salary occupational pensions in the private sector and their ending by Labour government action in the public sector.

For those working in the private sector, these final salary pensions are to be replaced by a pittance pension in which the worker will pay four per cent, his employer three per cent and the government a very generous one per cent.

This National Pensions Savings Scheme is to be introduced around 2012. However, this is ‘subject to government affordability’, meaning that its delivery depends on the state of the capitalist system.

As well, the Scheme is to be handed over to the private sector, meaning that its pensions will once again depend on stock market gambling, with its shares collapses or even Maxwell type pension robberies.

Meanwhile, new starters in the public sector will be hard hit by the ending of public sector final salary schemes, and all workers in local government by the ending of the rule of 85. All workers will have to work an extra five years till they are 65, before they move to retirement at 66, 67 and then 68.

What a future for youth! They will leave university with debts in the tens of thousands, and as soon as they get off that treadmill, they will have to start seriously saving for retirement, if they manage to get to 68.

None of these issues will matter for the rich. They will continue to retire at 50 and live in luxury while the worker ants toil on.

Another issue of course is the truthfulness or otherwise of government propaganda that everybody is living longer, so that a few more working years do not matter.

This does not tally with the advice of the Health Ministry, that children today are so unhealthily nourished, that they are obese, averse to any form of exercise and will die before their parents.

The truth of the matter is that there is no future under capitalism for workers and their families, whether it is in relation to their jobs, wages, healthcare, education, pensions, or retirement age.

All these are now unaffordable under capitalism in crisis. The solution for the bosses is to work the working class till it drops, to solve the pensions crisis.

The only solution for the working class is to organise to put an end to the capitalist system, to go forward to socialism.

To provide adequate pensions, and a retirement age that will allow workers to enjoy them, there must be a socialist revolution and the nationalisation of the banks, insurance companies and major industries under workers’ control.

With the abolition of the anarchy of the capitalist market, a socialist planned economy will provide a decent life for everybody.