Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/432/5074
Hands off our pensions!
All out on 28 March
BY MASSIVE majorities, 1.5 million council workers have voted to take national strike action on 28 March.
They are angry that the Labour government and the Tory-chaired Local Government Association still intend to go ahead with the attack upon council workers' pension rights.
UNISON members voted 80% in favour, TGWU members voted 8:1 in favour and members of another nine unions also voted by big majorities to take strike action.
Jean Thorpe, a member of UNISON's national executive, told the socialist, in a personal capacity:
"This strike will be solid. The latest scandal affecting New Labour makes members even more angry. They see the obscenity of a government giving peerages to its cronies whilst attacking the pensions of low-paid workers. UNISON members want to do all they can to defend their hard-won pension rights."
The main attack is on the right to retire at 60. At the moment the '85-year rule' means that if you are 60 and have been a member of the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) for at least 25 years, you can retire at 60. The bosses want to take this right away from those currently below the age of 53.
The employers have conceded that their figures are wrong - but they will be making the changes anyway. The unions have shown that, even on the basis of the government's own figures, there would be enough savings to give complete protection for all existing members.
- Over 500,000 workers in the last few years have seen their pension funds go up in smoke as the bosses declared themselves bankrupt. Now the government wants to do the same to the public sector - that is why they have launched this vicious attack on workers' rights.
- The bosses have launched a widespread attack on workers' pensions. The government's Turner Commission is demanding that the state pension age be raised to 67, then 68 and eventually 70. The bosses' 'union', the CBI, has said it should be raised to 75 and others said it should be 80! This is at the same time as the bosses retire at 60 to their country houses on their £1 million pensions.
No increase in the retirement age.
Step up the strikes if the employers don't budge.
TUC call a national 'Defend Pensions' demo now.
For a decent state pension, index-linked to the rise in earnings.
In The Socialist 23 March 2006: