TORY Prime Minister David Cameron and his Deputy Nick Clegg have declared war on six million workers in the public sector and their pensions.
Clegg said on Monday: ‘Private sector workers have already seen final salary schemes close, while returns from defined contribution schemes fall. So can we really ask them to keep paying their taxes into unreformed gold-plated public sector pension pots?
‘It’s not just unfair; it’s not affordable. As we face up to living within our means, we cannot ignore a spending area which will more than double within five years.’
Cameron and Clegg are gunning for the pensions of National Health Service staff, civil servants, teachers and local authority workers.
They are carrying out the demands of the financiers and big business which want a policy of slash and burn in the public services, the imposition of mass sackings, draconian pay cuts and the destruction of pensions.
PriceWaterhouseCooper, the multinational accountancy and management consultancy, published a report on Monday which said that nine out of ten private sector businesses in Britain are ending final salary pension schemes. This contrasted with the ‘gold-plated arrangements’ in the public sector.
Last month, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), representing big employers, called on the Tory-Lib Dem regime to stop the final salary schemes in the public sector for new recruits and called for the raising of the pension age.
For Cameron and Clegg, giving £1.2 trillion in government funds to bail out the banks and racking up a huge government debt was ‘affordable’, but paying decent pensions to retired nurses, teachers, civil servants and refuse collection workers is not!
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the major trades unions exposed the misleading statistics and lies spewing out of Downing Street yesterday to justify slashing public sector pensions.
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber accused the Tory-Lib Dem government of ‘presenting the costs of public sector pensions in a highly selective way’. He highlighted the fact that pension money is part of workers’ own salary, the payment of which is deferred to the future.
Unison General Secretary Dave Prentis said: ‘These pension myths are scaremongering. There are no unreformed, gold-plated pension pots. The average pension in local government is just £4,000 a year dropping to £2,600 for women.’
The Tories are at it again. Under Thatcher’s government, in the 1980s, the state pension was no longer increased in line with average earnings, a measure left in place by the last Labour government. Today state pensions are at a subsistence level, just £97.65 a week.
As a result of the world crisis of capitalism and British imperialism, Cameron and Clegg are dictating to low-paid workers, like school dinner staff, that they must lose their meagre pension to pay for the crisis and the bail-out of the banks.
Workers will not accept this. The working class has fought for the right to free healthcare through the NHS, free state education, affordable decent homes and pensions that allow them to escape poverty in old age.
At every trade union conference this summer a policy must be adopted for strike action to defend jobs, pay and public sector pensions, coordinated across the public sector. This will win the support of the whole trade union movement because public sector pensions are a benchmark for the struggle to defend pensions in the private sector.
Those union leaders who surrendered to the bosses in the battle to defend final salary schemes in the private sector and those who refuse to fight to defend public sector pensions must be removed and replaced by those who will lead this struggle.
If the basic rights of the working class are no longer ‘affordable’ under capitalism, then it is capitalism that has to go, not jobs, a living wage, essential services and pensions!
The whole trade union movement must be mobilised in a general strike to remove the Tory-Lib Dem regime, that has no mandate to destroy the rights of the working class.
It must be replaced by a workers government that will nationalise the banks and major corporations, and provide the resources needed to expand essential services, through developing a socialist planned economy.