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From The Socialist newspaper, 31 October 2012

Them & Us

Work-for-your-pension

Lord Bichard tells us we should be 'encouraging' retired people to do community work or risk losing part of their pension.

For example, they could look after people older and less able to do things than themselves. We're sure we've heard of people who do that...oh yes, care workers, nurses, social workers.

And that's never mind the fact that our pensions, far from being some generous gift from government to be added to and taken from at will, are our money, deferred from wages while we're younger.

...meanwhile

The Public Service Pensions Bill had its second reading on 29 October. Let's not forget this legislation writes into law all public sector workers having to work for longer, pay more and get less.

Disgracefully the majority of Labour MPs, too scared to make a peep in support of ordinary people, abstained from the vote - leaving the Tories and Lib Dems to get the attack through with no real opposition.

Childcare nightmare

The Resolution Foundation has drawn attention to what many of us have known for a long time - soaring childcare costs are impoverishing low-paid workers.

It's report showed that in general having a full-time job is 'hardly worthwhile' for the second earner in low and middle income families.

A couple could be left with as little as £4 a week extra from two incomes than one because of the proportion of the second income that is paid directly to nurseries, crèches and child minders.

Revolving door

Jonathan Luff, a senior advisor at number ten, has resigned his post. Where will he go to make most use of his skills and contacts? He's been appointed to lead the 'government affairs team' at rip-off pay day loan company, Wonga.

Famous for its 4,214% interest rate, Wonga is responsible for trapping an increasing number of people into a cycle of debt.

They can probably do with someone who can sit down for a friendly chat with the PM to ensure the company's free reign in destroying lives.

Make your mind up

Education minister Michael Gove says trainee teachers need tougher tests in English and maths before they're allowed to start their training.

From September the standard needed to pass the tests will be raised and candidates won't be able to use calculators.

Some might say it's funny that Gove is so concerned about the qualifications of teachers when he's made it possible for people with no teacher training at all to be employed as teachers in academies.

Morally wrong?

David Cameron rushed to condemn comedian Jimmy Carr as 'morally wrong' for avoiding £3.3 million of tax.

But when challenged in parliament to put Apple, Google, Facebook, eBay and Starbucks - recently revealed to have avoided nearly £900 million of tax between them - in the same category, he wasn't quite as keen.

In fact, the furthest he would go was agreeing that "HM Revenue and Customs needs to look at it very carefully".

But of course his emphasis is "we do need to make sure we are encouraging these businesses to invest in our country".

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In The Socialist 31 October 2012:


 

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Pension:

triangleBT pensions review - oppose the attacks on the pension schemes

triangleRoyal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangleYoung people being strangled by debts

triangleSet for national strike action

triangleThyssenKrupp - Tata steel merger

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triangleWeakened Tories forced into Northern Ireland abortion u-turn

triangleTories out! Corbyn can win with socialist policies

triangleFight Tories' callous cuts pushing 200,000 more kids into poverty

Teachers:

triangleNewham anti-academies strikes

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triangleTeachers strike in Sheffield

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