HUTTON, the Blairite currently doing the dirty work smashing up public sector pensions for Cameron and Osborne, has come up with no surprises. He is for abolishing final salary pensions in the public sector and for workers being made to pay higher contributions, in order to work till they drop, to the age of 65, then 68, and finally 70.
What a saving that will prove to be for the capitalist state. Millions of hard working workers, who would have enjoyed a pension from the age of 60, will be dead before they manage to struggle to 68 or 70.
In the course of his findings Hutton admitted that the ruling class propaganda about gold plated final salary pubic sector pensions was false, and that the average final salary pension was set at £7,800 a year. He made this point to get the support of Labourite politicians and some union leaders.
Chancellor Osborne yesterday called Hutton’s preliminary findings ‘impressive and substantial’.
In fact, the bonfire of workers’ pension schemes is well underway. Witness the recent decision to uprate pensions in line with the consumer prices index (CPI) rather than the retail prices index (RPI).
This decision has sliced 15% from the value of the pension.
This, taken alongside other changes pushed through, including raising the pension age to 65 for new recruits, means that the pension schemes now cost 25% less to fund than they did a few years ago.
The reaction of the new Labour Party leader Ed Miliband to Hutton’s attacks was to say that he would not support strikes against them. His advice to workers is to grin and bear it for the next five years.
The reaction of the trade unions was mixed. Some leaders were loud in their condemnations, but most were completely silent about what action to take to stop this mugging of the working class.
Unison leader Dave Prentis complained: ‘Public sector workers already pay a sizeable amount into their pension schemes year in, year out.’
Brendan Barber, the general secretary of the TUC, said public servants would be angered by Hutton’s recommendations. ‘Public sector workers are already facing job cuts, a pay freeze and increased workloads as they are expected to do more with less,’ he said.
He however could not resist adding his praise for his political friend, the Blairite Hutton, saying that many critics of public sector pensions, including ministers, ‘have been rebuffed today’. He added: ‘Public sector pensions are not gold-plated and the report says that pensions should be linked to salary, that change should be introduced in ways that do not deter pension saving and that there should be protection for the low-paid. This will stop a race to the bottom.’ Basically Hutton is doing a good job then!
Bob Crow, the general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, commented: ‘The summary of the ConDem pension enforcers’ proposals is clear – work longer, pay more and get less.’
He predicted: ‘This attack on the people who make this country tick will spark a furious backlash and will drive millions on to the streets in French-style protests to stop the great pensions robbery.’
Liam Byrne, Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said: ‘I strongly agree with John Hutton that public sector pensions need to be affordable for Britain and sustainable for the long term. As people live longer, workers will need to contribute more.’
While the Labour party leaders oppose strikes to defend pensions, and Barber made clear his support for Hutton, Crow is the only union leader who spoke up about the struggle that is now just ahead.
With the clock ticking down towards a class showdown, the working class urgently need a new and revolutionary leadership to answer the Coalition attack with a general strike and a socialist revolution.
The WRP is the only organisation that is building this leadership.