Pensions

Pensions White Paper: Government tells workers: Work Longer, Save More, Pay More Tax and Cross Your Fingers

By Mike Fenwick, UNISON

Trade union leaders in the TUC have welcomed the Government’s White Paper on pensions, published on 25 May.

Only the week before, the TUC had set out its “bottom-line” five tests for the White Paper. Even on a generous reading, the White Paper passed only one of the five tests.

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PCS conference: defy the pensions sell-out!

By a pcs socialist caucus member

THE annual conference of the civil service union PCS, in Brighton on 7-9 June with group (sector) conferences on 5-6 June, will debate an emergency motion from the union's Executive to "welcome" the pension agreement made earlier this year.

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Unions continue pensions battle

rail

On Tuesday 6 June the rail unions RMT and TSSA will report the results of their ballots for industrial action over pensions. Their demands, covering all railworkers outside the London Underground, are for pensions to be maintained, worker contributions limited to 10.56%, the Railway Pension Scheme to be open to all railworkers, and the Scheme to be simplified into three sections in place of the over 100 sections which have proliferated since privatisation.

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Rail pensions: strikes can win (Off The Rails bulletin)

We applaud the firm stand taken by the leadership of the RMT and TSSA to defend our pensions in difficult circumstances. We are trying to force the same concessions out of over 100 companies for decades to come, in a climate where the pension benefits of working-class people are being disastrously eroded by employers and government alike.

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Ballot set for biggest rail strike since 1926

By a rail worker

THE biggest rail strike for eighty years moved a step closer at the start of May with the unions setting a date for balloting workers across the industry. RMT, ASLEF, TSSA and engineering union CSEU gave notice of the strike ballot after the employers failed to agree the unions' four-point plan to avert a pensions crisis.

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Unison emergency motion on pensions

Emergency Motion from Tower Hamlets Local Government Unison branch to Unison Local Government Service Group conference, 18/19 June 2006.

Pensions – Suspension of Industrial Action

This (branch/stewards committee/meeting) expresses our shock and anger at the decision by the Local Government Service Group Executive to suspend our industrial action on pensions on the basis of the “Joint Statement from unions and employers on further talks over the future of the local government pension scheme.”

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Pensions: unions let Government off hook

from UNISON United Left

Local Government workers across the UK have reacted with alarm and anger at the news that all further action in our pensions dispute has been suspended as of 13 April pending further talks with the Local Government Association to conclude in June.

This despite the fact that there is no concrete offer from the employers, merely an agreement to framework talks with “nothing ruled in and nothing ruled out”.

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Pension scheme gutted

Now that the main public sector unions have capitulated on pensions — for the time being, anyway — the capitalist bosses are picking off smaller, weaker groups of workers at their leisure. The BBC has announced that its current final salary pension scheme will be replaced by a worse scheme for new entrants from September.

The changes will mean:

• The introduction of a "career average" scheme which will leave new workers an average of 30% worse off than their colleagues.

• An increase in the normal retirement age to 65 in 2016.

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Trade unionists slam calling-off of local government strikes

Leaflet from Unison United Left commenting on the local government unions' decision to call off the industrial action, continuing the campaign against pension cuts, due on 25-27 April.

No Time to Call Off Action

Local Government workers across the UK have reacted with alarm and anger at the news that all further action in our pensions dispute has been suspended pending further talks with the Local Government Association.

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The biggest strike for decades

by colin foster

28 March saw the biggest strike in Britain for decades. According to Unison and the other unions involved, over a million local government workers struck against the Government’s plans to cut their pensions.

That one day’s action amounted to twice as many striker-days as the average for a whole year over the period 1994-2003. Many more workers struck than voted for strike action in the unions’ ballot, or even than voted at all. Union branches recruited dozens of new members in the run-up to the strike.

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Reports from the strike day

Dumfries and Galloway: A mass picket of 300 people at the council offices in Dumfries. All council workplaces were affected, and 30 schools were closed. Everyone thought the day strike had been a success and was determined to continue with future strikes in order to win their demands. Elaine

Lambeth: 60 to 70 people on the picket line outside the Town Hall, Many women - mostly from local schools. A definite mood that people were up for more action on this issue. One worker told me how it should have happened before the general election — ain’t that true. Faz

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Tubeworker, 03/04/06

Tubeworker of 03/04/06 reports on the fight looming over pensions both in the Rail Pensions Scheme (which covers railworkers outside the London Underground) and in the Underground. Also: Underground cleaners move for strike action on pay; East London Line; ticket office closures; Drain closure; the role of CRAs; fire safety; Oystercards and surveillance.

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Local government unions call further action for 25-27 April

An official statement from the public services Unison on 30 March condemned the Deputy Prime Minister’s “provocative” action in pressing ahead with cuts in local government pensions.

General Secretary, Dave Prentis, said:

“John Prescott’s action today in laying an order in Parliament to cut pension rights is provocative, premature and unnecessary. It will further inflame the anger felt by our members at the way in which they are being treated by their Government and their employers.

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Good turnout for local government strike day

Snippets from the local government unions’ strike day on 28 March, when over a million workers struck against planned cuts in the local government pension scheme.

The unions’ next plans now are for a week of rolling strike action starting 24 April. The rolling action will be based on geographical areas, with all out strike action in different areas on different days of the week.

They also plan selective strikes by meat hygiene workers.

The unions met the Government for new talks on 29 March, but no reports from that are available yet.

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Build from March 28!

by a unison member

Build unity; reach out to other sections of the working class; organise hard-hitting action — and local government workers can win the huge battle over pensions due to open on 28 March.

The local government unions announced on 15 March that they have ballot majorities of around 80% to strike. They want to defeat the Government’s plans to abolish the “Rule of 85” which allows local government workers to retire on a full pension at 60 if they have 25 years’ service.

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Local government workers to strike on 28 March

One million workers in local government, members of Unison and other unions, are set to strike on 28 March against the Government's plans to cut their pension provision.

Some time back the Government declared its intention to raise the age at which public sector workers can claim their pensions, usually from 60 to 65. Most public sector unions agreed a deal with the Government in October 2005 whereby the pension age will be raised for all new entrants, but existing workers will be protected.

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Collision time for welfare?

By Colin Foster

We may be approaching the point at which — given a lead by a sufficiently strong and weighty body of activists — the multiform discontent with the Blair-Brown government's drive to chop up the welfare state could be transformed into a campaign strong enough to change the social balance of forces.

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Firefighters give a lead on pensions

By colin foster

The new leadership of the Fire Brigades Union has launched a big campaign to mobilise firefighters to defend their pension rights. The FBU is organising a round of district mass meetings, in early February.

FBU branches will elect delegates to a special conference of the union on 16 February, where a call from the union’s Executive to ballot for strike action will be debated.

The Government wants to cut firefighters’ pension provision so that:

• Their normal retirement age will rise, from 2013, from 50 to 55.

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Call for a rank and file public sector alliance

The Department of Work and Pensions London Regional Committee of the PCS union has issued the following statement.

In view of the common attacks upon the public sector, the London DWP Regional Committee is appealing to Labour movement bodies to

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Tax the rich to pay for pensions!

By Colin Foster

Back in the 1960s, writers used to puzzle about how we would cope with “the leisure revolution”. New technologies were reducing the work-time needed to produce the necessities of life, and so we would all work less.

Since then we’ve seen huge improvements in technology — through microelectronics and otherwise — but working hours are rising.

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What the unions should fight for

The unions should fight for an alternative of democratic social provision.

They should fight for a workers’ government — a government based on and accountable to the labour movement. A workers’ government should take all the pension funds into public ownership — without compensation to the financiers — and put them under the democratic control of the workers who pay into them and the pensioners who depend on them. It should tax the rich and big business as much as is necessary to level up pension provision with a proper guaranteed minimum.

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The history of pensions

Old age pensions have been won by labour-movement campaigning, or granted by conservative politicians trying to pre-empt rising labour movements.

The idea of a universal old-age pension, payable to all elderly people as of right, was first raised in the French Revolution of 1789–99, although the policy was never carried through.

The first comprehensive old-age pension was legislated in Germany, in 1889, by a conservative leader, Otto von Bismarck, who wanted to stall the rise of the then-illegal German socialist movement.

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Left plans united protest

The Socialist Green Unity Coalition - an alliance including the Alliance for Green Socialism, the Alliance for Workers' Liberty, the Socialist Alliance, and the Socialist Party — has decided on a joint campaign about pensions, with leafletting, street stalls, petitioning, and public meetings.

This is the text of the basic leaflet for the campaign.

The Turner report says that pensions are too costly, and in the future you’ll have to work longer and pay more to get less.

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Strike to defend future workers

By Tom Haslam

GMB shop stewards representing 6,000 British Gas engineers have called a number of one-day strikes in the battle to defend their pension rights and the rights of future workers.

Twenty-four hours strikes are due to take place on 12, 19, 21 December plus 6 and 9 January. In addition there will be a ban on out of hours cover from and including 12-23 December and 4-10 January.

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start a fightback!

With health, teachers and civil servants having agreed a deal over pensions with the government, local government workers have been left to battle on alone. The government has now said they will scrap the “Rule of 85” under which some council workers can retire on a full pension at 60. If the “Rule of 85” ends, all two million local government workers will work until the age of 65 by 2013.

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