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From The Socialist newspaper, 30 November 2011

Them & Us


There are today in Britain a group of well-paid public sector workers who are bleeding the economy dry, not creating any wealth and just contributing to the debt. They consistently underperform yet have seen a 4,000% pay increase in the last 30 years. We are of course talking about the directors of publicly owned banks. The director of Lloyds, for example, earns 75 times the average pay of a Lloyds bank employee. It is important that we remember these merchant bankers (and it's not cockney rhyming slang for nothing) after N30 because it can be easy to get sucked in by the right-wing propaganda. We need to remind ourselves there is a public sector deficit because of the debt not the other way around.

And more scroungers

There are gold plated public sector pension schemes: MPs can retire at 65 (we wish a few would), they receive an employer's contribution of 28.7% of their salary (compared to 14% for teachers) and they can accrue up to two-thirds of their 65,000 minimum salary as an annual pension (42,000). Finally theirs is a still a final salary scheme and is 51 million in the red!

Let's compare this to teachers. The average public sector pension is 5,600, life expectancy for a head teacher who retires at 65 is only 18 months and the teachers' pension scheme has been a net contributor to the state by the tune of 46 billion.

Dan Gillman, Waltham Forest teacher

Where's the support gone?

The Con-Dems spent the weekend before N30 using the BBC as a mouthpiece for peddling their anti-union propaganda. Education minister Michael Gove talked about "militants itching for a fight".

So trade unionists were pleased to read on Monday morning that Gove and Co had put the case so well that support for the strike was up to 61% generally, 67% among women and 79% among young people according to a Comres poll. However, it seems that the BBC got cold feet about actually reporting the mood among ordinary people. The article disappeared from view at about 3pm and no links to it could be seen.

Luckily this is not a reflection of reality where support for this vital step in the fight against all the cuts is growing. A Metro poll has so far found over 85% (at time of writing) think public sector workers are justified in striking to defend their pensions.

No to divide and rule!

The arrogant cheek of millionaire government ministers is breathtaking. They talk about how unfair it is that public sector workers are striking to defend pensions while those of us working for private firms have already been stripped of most of our pension rights.

I say good luck to teachers, civil servants and local government workers - fight to hang on to what you've got.

Bus workers joining since the privatisation of the industry a couple of decades ago have no significant pension to look forward to. But we won't benefit if others lose their modest pensions.

The attitude of many bus workers towards the big strike is - it's about time our union stood up for our futures, too!

Andy, south London bus worker

The housing ladder

At 1 Hyde Park one of the parking spaces sold for an eye-watering 250,000. Three units of storage space sold for 150,000, 157,000 and 50,000. Total sales so far add up to 1.424 billion. Great for the economy that all these houses are being sold you might think - but of the 62 flats only nine are paying council tax.

Meanwhile more than 360,000 London households - about one-tenth of them - are on borough housing waiting lists, nearly double the number at the start of the century and 200,000 London

Confused - you will be!

According to the Independent newspaper - the Labour leader Ed Miliband appeared to harden his position before N30, saying he did not support strikes because they were "always a sign of failure". But he insisted he would not "demonise" those taking action... Hmmm...

Poison profits

The London 2012 Olympic Games is facing a boycott from the Indian Olympic Association after Lord Coe, chair of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (Locog), accepted a 7 million sponsorship deal from US multinational Dow Chemicals. Dow wants to 'wrap' the Olympic Stadium in its company fabric.

Dow, which manufactured the toxic Agent Orange defoliant widely sprayed by US forces in the Vietnam War, took over the Union Carbide Corporation in 2001. Union Carbide's Indian subsidiary was responsible for the 1984 Bhopal disaster in which a lethal gas leak at its Bhopal plant in India killed up to 25,000 people and injured hundreds of thousands.

Lord Coe has defended the deal and maintains that Dow cannot be held responsible for the disaster and subsequent suffering of thousands of Indians.

Coe himself is no stranger to controversy, not least because of his personal gain from the games. As chair of Locog he receives a 365,507 salary and thousands of pounds more for attending meetings. He also benefits by charging upwards of 10,000 for each speech he delivers and makes hundreds of thousands of pounds from consultancy fees, sponsorship deals and 'image rights'.

Dave Carr, east London

What We Heard... Facebook favourites this week

Happy customers!

It was lovely to chat to you this morning and that one Socialist paper has travelled a long way around my student cafe! I will be taking part in the march on Wednesday - my tiny Uni will be wearing red, making banners and joining up with Kings for the day.

Hannah by email

A worker bought the Socialist this morning because she said: "I am sick of hearing from the media that this is not the right time to strike". She wanted to read a paper that supports the strike action she was taking.

Martin Reynolds, Walthamstow Socialist Party

What have the unions ever done for us?

Unions: the people who brought you the weekend. And capped working hours. And employment rights and protections. And fair wages. And pensions. And ended child labour. What a bunch of greedy b******s.

Royal swindle

When the government decides we can have a day off for the royal wedding it doesn't damage the economy but when the workers decide to strike for a day it costs the UK economy half a billion... Is there something funny going on?

Who got us into this mess?

Remember when teachers, civil servants, police, ambulance staff, nurses, midwives, doctors and firefighters crashed the stock market, wiped out banks, took billions in bonuses and paid no tax? No, me neither.

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In The Socialist 30 November 2011:

Socialist Party news and analysis

30 November shows... We can win!

Con-Dems' autumn statement: 'pain now, pain tomorrow and more pain for longer'

Fight this bosses' charter!

Who cares about home care?

The Tory solution to pensioner poverty?

Them & Us

International socialist news and analysis

Eurozone: Into the abyss?

Egypt: Millions cast their votes in the first post-Mubarak elections

Kazakhstan: Demand Georgii Epshtein's release!

Socialist Party feature

Jarrow March for Jobs 2011

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Brighton Greens fail to fight the cuts

A message from Tommy Sheridan

'Not guilty' - support for Cardiff activists

Stoke Socialist Party's public meeting success

Leeds Against Cuts: defiant mood to fight 'daylight robbery'

Showing racism the red card

London trade unionists support electoral opposition to cuts

Socialist Party workplace news

Construction workers defend the JIB

Electricians occupy building company HQ

Usdaw: Fighting against the policies of 'social partnership'

Workplace inbrief

The Socialist, reviews & comments

When bankers were good?

Why I joined the Socialist Party


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