Sack The Leaders Who Are Selling Out Pensions


YESTERDAY the TUC leader Brendan Barber, who organised the betrayal of the 760 locked-out Gate Gourmet workers, and before that organised the betrayal of the FBU national pay claim in the Autumn of 2002, was at it again, this time organising for the end of final salary pensions in the public sector.

He is a true servant of the bankers and the bosses.

A TUC sponsored statement by all the trade union leaders involved, issued yesterday, said that a joint statement had been agreed with the Local Government Association and ‘Each of the unions will now urgently be holding their necessary internal consultations on that recommendation.’

‘To facilitate these negotiations it is being recommended that all the industrial action currently planned should be suspended.’

The truth is that the leaders were so shocked by the militancy of the 1.5 million workers who stopped on March 28th, that they were forced to call further action – which they immediately began to cancel.

They called a week of strikes by abbatoir inspectors on March 29th, to begin from midnight on April 2.

This was cancelled on March 31. The press notice from UNISON said: ‘The regional programme of all out action planned for later this month and national action in May remains in place.’ Now these strikes have been cancelled. How the employers and the government must be laughing.

And just look at what they have agreed to.

The joint statement with the local government employers states that . . . ‘The statement by the Minister for Local Government on 30th March laying Parliamentary Orders, including the Order to abolish the Rule of 85 from October 2006, provides a framework for developing a new-look scheme.’

The trade union leaders are approving the abolition of the rule of 85 and abolishing retirement at 60 for local government workers!

The UNISON notice cancelling the meat inspectors strike says the following about the Rule of 85. ‘The dispute has been provoked by the government and the local government employers’ plan to cut pension rights for members of the Local Government Pension Scheme. Last Thursday, the Deputy Prime Minister laid an Order in Parliament to abolish the Rule of 85 from 1 October, 2006. That rule allows people the right to retire after 60 if they have paid into the pension scheme for at least 25 years.’

The notice of the abolition of the rule of 85 was the cause of war. In the trade union-local government employers joint statement it has become, in just two weeks, ‘a framework for developing a new-look scheme.’

It didn’t take long for the bosses and government to get the TUC and the trade union leaders onto their knees to sell out final salary pensions, one of the great gains of working people in the public sector.

‘The Joint Statement quotes the Minister as saying that talks must commence on ‘a nothing ruled in nothing ruled out basis’ . . . They are selling out so quickly that they have given the government and the employers a blank cheque.

In return for surrender the Minister offers a ‘cynical sop’ ‘The government intends that these reforms can be guided by the principle that up to half of the savings achieved by the final removal of the rule of 85 can be re-cycled into the development of whatever benefit package is felt by the Stakeholders and membership to be appropriate for the new-look 2008 Scheme’. There are to be a few crumbs made available from the government’s and bosses’ spoils of war. But all in a particular context. This is that ‘All participants are firmly committed to change in pension provision, now and in the future, being made by agreement as far as possible, respecting the role of the DPM as regulator.’ The DPM is to be the final arbiter, the dictator over the public sector.

Local government workers must take action immediately to sack the leaders who have agreed to this sellout. The strikes must not only be reinstated, they must be expanded to all out strike action by all local government workers, to defend final salary pensions by bringing down Blair’s Tory government.