Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 20 October 2005


Government climbs down but questions still remain

FACING THE possible threat of the biggest strike movement since 1926 it appears that the New Labour government has partially retreated from some of its plans on public-sector pensions - such as increasing the retirement age of existing public-sector workers from 60 to 65.

The government has outlined a framework agreement where existing members of the civil service, health and education schemes have their current conditions protected. This is a significant retreat by New Labour and has come about because of the threat of strike action.

Yet, the underlying fear and anger workers feel over their future pension rights will not go away on the basis of the deal. In the private sector many workers still face huge cuts in their pensions. The lesson that the threat of united, industrial action brings concessions will not be lost on them.

The government has no doubt also looked at the strike action of workers in France and Belgium against pension changes and thought better of taking on public-sector workers at this stage, despite Blair's confrontational statements at the TUC.

Partial retreat

DESPITE THE government's partial retreat, they still appear to want to introduce a two-tier pension system throughout the public sector, with new entrants working till they are 65. And changes to the local government and fire service pension schemes - including raising the retirement age - still remain intact.

Last week the local government sector executive of UNISON, the largest local government union, took the decision to ballot for strike action if the government goes ahead and imposes the changes by 3 November.

The TUC says, however, it hopes to "see the same progress made in local government."

The deal for health, education and civil service workers is now "being recommended to public-sector unions for endorsement."

Members of unions in those sectors will be keen to see the details of the proposed deal and how it affects not only them but future generations of entrants into those sectors.

They will also want to consider the consequences of accepting what will effectively be two-tier conditions for the public-sector workforce, and in particular what it implies for possible future battles over job cuts and spending cuts.

According to the TUC, "the government has accepted that today's public-sector staff should not have their pension promises broken and need suffer no detriment in their pensions arrangement". But it's clear that this will not apply in the same way to the next generation of public-sector workers.

Union members in the civil service, health and education will need to ensure that the full details of any deal are given to all the members for consultation and put to special conferences or members' meetings or ballots.

Possibly the cabinet may have done its sums and decided that, despite Blair's intent to take on public-sector unions, that the savings it hoped to make by increasing the retirement age did not merit facing the threat of a virtual general strike of public-sector workers. Even the pro-Labour Daily Mirror said in its 18 October editorial: "It would be a serious mistake if the government tried to impose a higher retirement age on public workers."

Yet, with the Turner Commission reporting at the end of November and flagging up possible increases in the state retirement age to 67 or 70, then the TUC Congress decision to call a national pensions demo - uniting public-sector workers, private sector workers and pensioners - is still an urgent necessity.

And the government still wants to make huge savings in cutting pension entitlements for all workers and future generations of pensioners. The trade union movement still has the responsibility to conduct a struggle that ensures working-class people as a whole suffer no further detriment to their pension entitlement - now and in the future.

That means mobilising the latent strength of the workers' movement to fight for decent pensions for all. United struggle can end the nightmare of insecure retirement that the capitalist system means for most working people in this country.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 20 October 2005:

Take over the drug companies

Health service... condition critical!

Government climbs down but questions still remain

Courts fail to tackle rail dangers

Come to Socialism 2005 - defend democratic rights

Students are searching for a socialist alternative

Sleepwalking to segregation?

Poorest areas of towns and villages suffer most

Iraq: Women's rights pushed back

Strong solidarity action against Connex union-busting

Challenging 'partnership'

London bus workers reject pay offer


Home   |   The Socialist 20 October 2005   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleWorkers' anger increases after Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangleSet for national strike action

triangleCWU strike ballot to win 'Four Pillars'

triangleCWU members prepare for industrial action at Royal Mail

triangleBosses' pensions robbery


trianglePreparing for the showdown

triangle30 June pension strike reports


triangleYoung people being strangled by debts

triangleThyssenKrupp - Tata steel merger

triangleCWU strike ballot - why I'm voting Yes

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



'Dazzling' Bad Art show points to socialist future


Democratic rights

Conference on state spies and sabotage: who's watching who?



Sheffield Labour council threatens peaceful protesters with prison


South West Wales

Hundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP



Uprising to save the NHS!



Can you donate to the Socialism 2017 appeal?


East London

No cuts - hands off King George A&E!


North London

North London hospital workers fight cuts and job losses



Striking back against the sackers' charter at Leeds University



Nationalise to save jobs at BAE Systems


Royal Mail

Workers' anger increases after Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers



Schools "can't go any further" - stop the cuts: set deficit budgets now



PCS ballots members to send message to government: scrap the pay cap



Socialist Students 'welcome' Hillary Clinton to Swansea


Local government

Unite local government sector plans strike ballot

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party out the Tories

triangle11 Oct CWU fights court attempt to stop national strike

triangle11 Oct The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against...

triangle11 Oct Catalonia: Workers can finish what Puigdemont won't

triangle6 Oct Boeing bust-up threatens thousands of skilled jobs

triangle4 Oct The nasty party turns on itself... but the Tories must be driven out

More ...

triangle18 Oct Warrington & St Helens Socialist Party: 1917-2017; the October Russian Revolution

triangle18 Oct Hackney Socialist Party: 100 years ago - the Bolshevik-led revolution

triangle18 Oct Tower Hamlets Socialist Party: Capitalism in Crisis - is Corbyn the answer?

triangle19 Oct Waltham Forest Young Socialists: Deaths in police custody

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017





















Platform setting: = No platform choice