Penions and pickets

The TUC conference in London has voted unanimously in favour of co-ordinated action over the Government’s pension reform plans. “Unanimous” – a word that leaves little doubt about the stance of public sector workers. I for one think this is outrageous, bullying tactics by the nasty Unions for the following reasons:

My Social Worker colleagues and I created financial systems that no-one could or wanted to, control. Teachers, when they were not educating the nation’s children, recklessly dished out mortgages that people could not pay. NHS staff, in-between saving lives, insured the mortgages that people could not pay. Prison officers, gambled as much money as they possibly could in the financial markets and when it all went wrong, they said they’d go and work in a Prison abroad if they were made to pay for the mess. Street cleaners, bought the debt of entire foreign nations, that those nations could not pay. You didn’t know this about public sector workers? Well, this is why we have to forgo some of our pensions.

Perversely, those banks that do such a good job of wealth creation for the rest of us are being asked to undergo some changes. I know, I know, this is a horrifying prospect and it’s not as if we’re uninformed. The banks have been polite enough to tell us about the damage such measures will have on the recovery, so if we wouldn’t mind delaying the changes for a bit, that would be just great. Please don’t panic though, soon the 50p tax will be a thing of the past, which will loosen the purse strings of the rich.  They’ll do their bit for the rest of us (we are all in this together after all) and spend like jimminey so that all that money will trickle right on down to the rest of us. This relies of course on a sudden reversal in tactics that prevent the trickling process, but I’m sure this is in hand.  High earners have got everyone’s best interests at heart and wouldn’t dream of stashing any of their money away in the Cayman Islands.

We must address the matter of these pensions which are horribly unfair on private sector workers. So, tell you what, let’s grind public sector pensions down. Those greedy Nurses have had way too much for way too long. Let’s chip away at those gold plated, diamond encrusted, platinum tipped penions until they’re in the vicinity of private sector pensions. In fact, if we could scale them back so much that they’re worth less than private sector penions, we’d have a case for reducing private sector pensions to bring them below public sector pensions. Then back to attacking the public sector pensions, repeat to fade, all pensions obliterated and everyone’s a winner!

Ministers intend to shave £2.8bn off the pensions bill, to address the defecit. The defecit is actually quite convenient cover for this attack on public sector pensions and spending cuts. I believe these moves are primarily ideologically driven, the financial crisis just makes the plans more palatable.

So, when Unison ballots its members on whether to take industrial action, will I vote in favour? You bet your last chocolate digestive I will. I relish the prospect. I even look forward to the actual process of dropping my ballot sheet into the box. For when there’s a solid, tangible action you can take to resist injustice, there’s nothing more empowering than taking it. To address the imbalance in pensions, an increase in union membership in the private sector (currently 15% of employees compared to 60% of the public sector) would help workers in other industries fight to improve their own conditions, rather than drag down others’. What we’re seeing is blatant divide and rule, we need unity across the public and private sector to address horrendous income inequality across both public and private and society.

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