The Con-Dem Government proposals are for public sector workers to pay more, work longer and receive less. The Government wants to privatise public services. The Government and the private sector see public sector pensions as a barrier because employees transferred out of the public sector must be offered “broadly comparable” pension schemes under the Fair Deal on Pensions. That is why George Osborne wants to end the Fair Deal on pensions. The strike against attacks on pensions represents a strike to defend public services and is therefore in the interests of all of us (and our families) who use or will use public services.
Public Sector pensions are neither “unfair” nor “gold plated” and have not been the cause of hardship in our communities or in the private sector. The unfairness lies between the rich and the poor, with the richest in society receiving pensions averaging £175,000 a year, 97% of executive directors in FTSE 350 companies having company-sponsored pension arrangements (compared to one third of private sector workers), and with most executives able to retire at 60. This is on top of growing income inequality with top incomes growing by 64.2 % over the past decade while average earners’ income has increased by 7.2 % so that at the present time the total income of the richest 10% of the population is higher than the combined income of the poorest 50% of the population.
Public sector pensions are not “unsustainable” and in March 2011 George Osborne himself told parliament that cutting public service pensions is about “filling the hole in the public finances”, demonstrating that these attacks have nothing to do with demographics and people living longer but are further attempts to make working people pay for a problem that they did not create.
The suggestion that strike action is falling into a Government “trap,” as Labour Party Ed Balls has stated, can only undermine the strike and does not serve the interests of the public. We call on everyone to respect the Unions’ decisions and to wholeheartedly back co-ordinated strike action on November 30th.
Notts SOS values and respects our public services and those who work in the public sector. We acknowledge that they carry out some of the most important work in our society, including nursing, midwifery, care of those of us who are elders, vulnerable, have disabilities or are children; providing emotional as well as practical support and often working more than their paid hours. We defend their right to take strike action.