Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/313/11651
Civil service union challenges New Labour's pension pans
PCS MEMBERS are angry about attempts to change their pension entitlements. The new national executive (NEC) with its Left Unity majority have tabled a resolution to the TUC calling for a co-ordinated public-sector day of action to defend adequate state pension provision.
Mark Baker, PCS NEC, personal capacity
Despite representations from the unions, the government have decided to press ahead with its proposal to compulsorily raise the pension age for public service employees from 60 to 65.
This will mean that if staff choose to retire at 60, as is their right at the moment, they will not be entitled to a full pension.
Many of them have already worked 20-30 years and planned to retire at 60 with a full pension. They are also proposing to raise the minimum age for accessing pensions to 55.
The government also want to introduce the change initially for new entrants by the end of 2006, thereby creating a two-tier pension system for existing employees and new staff.
We are opposed to this too.
There are further implications for members who are in private-sector pension schemes (because their work has transferred to the private sector) of the reduction in how much pensions are uprated against inflation.
We support the right of members who choose to work beyond 60 to be able to do so but this is a different matter to raising the pension age.
Members are also angry that these proposals have come to light when only last year all staff were asked to choose from a series of different pension schemes.
This was allegedly to allow more flexibility and choice, though again new entrants were excluded from these options. Had this information been available, staff may have opted for different pension arrangements.
The employer claimed this is not a cost-cutting measure in their briefing to staff but then say that "savings will accrue from increasing the pension age and will help ensure pensions remain affordable".
It is clear therefore that the value of hard-working staff who have given many years service is less important than saving a bit of money.
We are tax payers too!
It is a disgrace that the government cheats and robs its own employees in this way. Workers in France and Austria and across Europe have shown the way to fight these attacks and a co-ordinated public sector-wide campaign in Britain can galvanise a similar response.
The TUC resolution will hopefully provide a framework for action.
In The Socialist 6 September 2003: