Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/379/4269
The great pensions robbery
THE PENSION rights of the majority of the British workforce are under attack.
Unless you're a judge, an MP or a fat cat chief executive of a FTSE 100 company then the chances are that you've either had your pension rights cut or are facing an attack on those entitlements.
This feature is based on the Socialist Party's new pensions pamphlet.
For years, private-sector companies have been ripping off their workforce and eroding their pension entitlements. By ending the final salary pension schemes and taking contributions holidays, the bosses have saved themselves over £20 billion since 1987 in reduced contributions and, at the same time, increased their company profits by over £4 billion, according to the TUC.
The bosses have done this to boost their profits and ensure their declining capitalist system increases its profitability overall.
Now the government plans to get in on the act. By increasing the retirement age, ending final salary schemes in some sectors and increasing employee contributions the government hopes it can cut the cost of pensions in the public sector by 15%-20%. This is estimated to amount to at least £100 billion.
Millions of public-sector workers are facing daylight robbery from their pensions by this government. Local government workers will be affected from as early as April 2005.
For all workers, pensions are in effect deferred or unclaimed wages. Trade unions have generally always negotiated on pensions entitlement as part of the overall pay package, so any attempt to change them effectively amount to a pay cut.
Chancellor Gordon Brown claims that workers have to take a pay cut because there is not enough money in the Treasury to pay for the private sector's pension crisis or to pay the government's own commitments as an employer.
Brown conveniently forgets the tens of billions that have been handed out in cuts in corporation tax and other handouts to big business in recent years. And, he conveniently ignores the 'blank cheque' he says he is prepared to write to cover the invasion and occupation of Iraq - which is now projected to cost over £7 billion.
We are told to take a pay cut while the government allows the rich to get even wealthier. Blair and Brown still refuse to raise the level of income tax on the super-rich who are laughing all the way to the bank.
Gordon Brown is facing a public-spending black hole because of this obscene generosity to the wealthy and big business. In order to balance his books he is desperate to cut as much public spending as possible and wants to follow the road trodden by private employers in effectively cutting workers' pay by slashing their pensions.
In The Socialist 5 February 2005: