TORY Chancellor Rishi Sunak this week put every pensioner in the country on notice that along with workers they will be forced to pay for British capitalism’s economic crisis.
In a TV interview, Sunak repeatedly refused to confirm that the ‘triple lock’ on state pensions would be maintained, instead insisting that it was ‘still government policy’ but would be reviewed in the autumn when he will announce all the cuts in government spending to ‘re-balance’ the economy.
The triple lock on state pensions, introduced by the then coalition government in 2011, guarantees that the basic state pension increases by a minimum of either 2.5%, the rate of inflation, or average earnings.
It was seen by the Tories as a massive boost to their popularity amongst older voters at a time when the working class were being driven into the ground by austerity wage freezes.
Now Sunak is preparing to ditch the triple lock after it emerged that if it remains in place he will have to find an extra £4 billion next year to fund it.
The priority for Sunak and the Tories is no longer keeping pensioners happy but cutting back on government spending at all costs to try and bring down the over £2.3 trillion debt run up bailing out capitalism through the pandemic.
Pensioners are being told that they will join with workers in having their income slashed to keep the banks and industry from collapse.
This was clear in a statement from the Treasury that said Sunak’s focus was to ‘ensure fairness for both pensioners and taxpayers’.
Fairness for the Tories means equal suffering and poverty for workers and pensioners!
What is driving this attack on pensions is not the mythical sharp increase in wages that is being reported but on the contrary the sharp drop in wages for workers as furlough ends completely on September 30 and the regime of fire and rehire wage-cutting running riot in every industry and company that survives.
By ending the triple lock Sunak wants those surviving on state pensions to share the pain as inflation spirals out of control and the devaluation of wages and pensions plunges millions into poverty.
Already workers and pensioners are facing sharp increases in the cost of living as UK inflation has soared past the Bank of England’s 2% target, hitting 2.1% in May from 1.5% in April and set to increase month on month.
The only link between wages and pensions the Tories are interested in is to ensure that pensions are cut at the same rate as wages.
Not just state pensions are under a sustained and vicious attack, occupational pensions have been targeted by the bosses too.
Every single attempt by employers to impose new contracts under fire and rehire involved cuts to pensions while the Tories are insisting on cuts to the occupational pension scheme for rail workers to finance any bail-out of Transport for London.
Occupational pensions are deferred pay, paid for by workers accepting lower pay rates in return for a decent pension after retirement.
Similarly, state pensions are paid for by National Insurance paid by workers to ensure enough money to live on in old age.
Pensions are not a gift from the capitalist state but a hard-won right fought for by the trade unions at the start of the last century.
Workers and pensioners are in the same boat and facing the same enemy – a Tory government and a capitalist system determined to force them into poverty on a scale not seen since the Hungry Thirties in order to bail-out the bosses and bankers.
They must unite to demand that the unions fight to defend the right to a decent standard of living for every worker and every pensioner by organising a general strike to bring down this Tory government and expropriate the bosses and bankers going forward to a workers’ government and socialism.
Only a socialist planned economy under the management of workers and for the benefit of everyone can ensure a decent life for both old and young.