‘THERE is no obligation on the part of employers to provide pensions’, said the National Association of Pension Funds yesterday.
This was its response to the news that Rentokil is simply abolishing its final salary pension scheme and replacing it with a freeze on all staff pensions to a percentage of their current 2005 salary.
The declaration of the NAPF is the policy that all of the big employers are adopting, as the crisis of capitalism undermines and collapses all of the huge pensions funds.
Up till now, employers have tried to replace final salary pensions with a two-tier set up. This allows current staff a final salary pension, and future staff an average salary pension much inferior to the former.
However, with a private pensions black hole calculated to be at £40 billion as far as the FTSE 100 companies are concerned, there is to be one simple rule for all, no final salary pension – except of course for the top management and the bosses themselves.
Millions of people who consider themselves to be middle class will be outraged at this development which condemns them to a retirement in poverty.
The end result will be the revolutionising of millions, who will declare that that if capitalism and its ruling class can renege on their obligation to provide them with a pension, then they no longer have any obligation to support the capitalist system.
Millions will decide that if capitalism cannot provide them with an adequate pension, then it is capitalism that will have to go and not their pensions.
The situation is being created whereby these millions will follow that class which can provide them with a future.
That class of course is the working class, and it is the working class organisations that must provide the required leadership for the struggle to defend pensions, wages and jobs.
Already, this winter will see a struggle erupting between over 1.5 million public sector local government workers and the Blair government over the latter’s determination to abolish their final salary pensions and to extend the retirement age of firefighters from 50 to 60, and the local government workers from 60 to 65.
The government also has plans to raise the retirement age for the state pension from 65 to 66, then to 67 and then to between 68 and 69 by 2050.
It is to be work till you drop, while paying for a short retirement in poverty, surviving for as long as you can – unless you are an MP, judge, police chief or a member of the boss class.
The trade unions and the TUC must demand that state pension increases be linked to increases in average earnings. They must defend the current retirement age and all final salary pensions in both the public and private sector.
The trade unions and the TUC must tell the government that they will not tolerate the attack on pensions and pensioners.
They must call a general strike over the issue of pensions to bring down the Blair government and bring in a workers’ government. This will restore the value of the state pension, and restore all final salary pensions by carrying out socialist policies, including the nationalisation of the banks that are making such record profits, to provide the funds for pensions.