Thursday, 17 November 2011

Work Longer, Pay More, Get Less

 On the 30th November up to 3million workers – teachers, lecturers, localgovernment workers, civil servants, health workers – are set to be on strike to defend pensions, pay and the public sector. In Cambridge 47% of people work in the public sector and we could see thousands on picket lines and on the streets.

Pensions are a share of the wages, paid by an employer, that gets deferred by placing it into a pension scheme to provide for old age. Employers and the government have decided that they no longer want to pay their share of the scheme. They want workers to pay more – increasing contributions by 50% or more, work longer – the retirement age will increase to 68 for those under 34, 67 for those between 34 and 42, and 66 for those ages over 42 – and get less – changes to pension increase to the consumer prices index (CPI), from the retail prices index (RPI), will cut tens of thousands of pounds from the value of pensions, replacement of final salary pension schemes with "career average" schemes will mean less money for the vast majority.

In universities members of the University and Colleges Union (UCU) and Unite the Union will betaking action, and it is crucial that students support them, and all workers taking action on November 30. When we took action last year over attacks on education university staff stood by us. The fight to defend education is part of the same fight to defend pensions, defend jobs, defend public services. We need to stand united in the face of the government's vicious attacks.

There are a whole host of lies and myths surrounding public sector pensions

“Public sector pensions are gold plated” - LIE

Excluding the very highest earners, the average pension in the civil service is £4,200 a year and more than 100,000 people get £2,000 or less. In local government the average pension is £4,000, and in the NHS the median pension is £4,000. The situation for women workers is even worse. In local government the average pension for women is just £2,600 per year and in the NHS where 80% of the workforce is female, more than half of female pensioners get less than £3,500 a year.

"Greedy public sector workers have their pension subsidised by the rest of us” - LIE

The government hands out £39 billion in tax relief on pension payments, however 60% of this goes to higher rate tax payers (those on over £42,476), and 25% (almost £10 billion) goes to the richest 1% of earners. Tax relief is massively biased towards the rich. If you can afford to make a contribution to your pension scheme, your tax bill is reduced, but while for a standard rate tax payer, after tax relief, it costs 80p to put an extra pound in their pension, it only costs a higher rate tax payer 60p, and for the richest 1%, only 50p.
"We're all living longer so you'll have to pay more and get less” - LIE

Generally people are living longer than their parents – and that's a good thing which should be celebrated! But it's not true that everyone is making the same gains. For senior officials, directors and CEOs, many of whom can retire at 60, life expectancy has risen by 9 years in the last 30. For manual, unskilled women workers it has only risen by just over 1 year in the same period, yet the pension age has soared up 5 years. So these women will lose at least 4 years of their paid retirement.

"Public sector schemes should be made to match private sector ones" - LIE

Profit hungry firms have already wrecked the pensions of millions of private sector workers. Now the Coalition wants to do the same for those in the public sector. The destruction of private sector scheme will lead to poverty for millions in the future. But the solution to that is not to level everyone down to the worst that exists everywhere, the solution is to fight for decent private sector schemes that are at least as good as the ones available now in the public sector, and a state pension available to all that ensures dignity in older age.

What you can do
  • Join the shutdown of education on November 30th – Don‟t work, don't study! Visit picket lines to show your support for strikers, don‟t cross any picket lines, join the strike march.
  • Talk to your friends, classmates, everyone you meet! Will they be supporting the shutdown of education on November 30th? Get everyone in your lectures to walkout.
  • Talk to your lecturers. Ask them if they're members of UCU. Will they be they'll be taking strike action? Tell them you support what they're doing!

No comments:

Post a Comment