Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Public sector workers are the latest scapegoats

If you read the Daily Mail you might be tempted to believe that public sector workers are the new fat cats. The Daily Mail has waged a sustained campaign against 'gold plated' public sector pensions as its recent reporting here shows. Tory leader David Cameron has pledged to end the pensions 'apartheid' which separates public and private sector workers.

Do public sector workers have good pay and pensions? Well er... no we don't. The overwhelming majority of public sector workers are low paid. They may have final salary pensions but being low paid those pensions won't amount to much - we are talking a few thousand pounds a year - and most of these people will live in poverty in their old age.

Private sector workers have had their pensions shafted in the past decade or so. Final salary schemes - which offer the best pension and security on retirement - have been closed to millions of private sector workers and replaced with 'money purchase' or defined contribution schemes. These alternatives offer far less to workers and are based on the vagaries of the stockmarket which we know may well go down as well as up.

Why have private sector workers had their pensions reduced? Allegedly because they are no longer 'affordable'. Companies have deficits in their pension schemes. But these deficits arose because the companies took pension holidays where they paid no contributions into the pension fund - opting instead to hand out more money to shareholders and executives. Private sector workers are now paying the price for this. Of course Gordon Brown's decision to reduce tax breaks for pensions has contributed to this mess.

The right wing press, led by the Daily Mail, have exploited this situation to attack public sector pensions and we now hear regularly from disgruntled private sector workers grumbling about privileged ' fat cat' public sector workers. But what these workers ought to do is get off their backsides, like their parents did, join a trade union, and fight to restore better pensions for themselves - put up or shut up - rather than trying to do their fellow workers in the public sector down.

Public sector workers are now the scapegoats in an economic crisis entirely of the capitalist class's own making. The pensions issue is being used to drive a wedge between public and private sector workers.

We are facing a pensions crisis. The crisis is about millions of British workers spending their retirement in poverty. The real culprits are the capitalist corporations and their chums in New Labour and the Tory party. This is simple class war - transferring wealth created by workers back to capitalists and their cronies. They get more - we get less. Its about time workers in the private and public sector stood together to get better pensions for all. That is how we got decent pensions in the first place.


The Arthurian said...

Hello Howard Thorp. Funny, I was talking about this exact problem earlier today.

The attack on public-sector pay-and-benefits is identical to the attack on government spending in general, only with a scaled-down focus.

Private-sector workers should be looking at private-sector pay as a benchmark to be surpassed.

The Arthurian said...

Private-sector workers should be looking at public sector pay as a benchmark to be surpassed.