Thursday, 15 December 2011

URGENT: Pensions - No shoddy deal, set the date for action

Just when this Government is cracking at the seams, just when we have had one of the largest strikes for generations, some in the TUC are trying to recommend a shoddy deal that will allow the Government to get away with their pensions robbery.

Urgent pressure needs to be applied in every union to make sure that negotiators do not cave-in but show the same courage and determination as their members showed in their millions on November 30.

Reports from today's TUC PSLG meeting suggest that some, such as Brendan Barber and Dave Prentis, are arguing that 'we have gone as far as we can' and that unions should all agree to sign-up and throw in the towel on Monday. Reportedly, the PCS have even been told that if they don't agree by then, all talks will be ceased - with the threat that any concessions that have been offered (not that there are many!) will be removed.

I understand that the PCS, NUT and others like the NASUWT have stood firm - but others are clearly looking to settle. But what gains have been made? Prentis can apparently point to the offer of a two-year delay in increased contributions in Local Government - but that only postpones the pain to come. I understand that he has nothing similar in the Health negotiations. Certainly, nothing similar has been offered in education - in fact the hope that the Government might offer retirement ages set lower than the State Pension Age has been dashed - so it's still retirement at 67 and 68 for many. The only minor concession might be that if you retire at 66, you'll only lose 3% of your pension for every year of 'early' retirement instead of 5%!!. Even that would have to be paid for by losses elsewhere in the scheme.

Crucially, the Government has refused to lift the 'cost-ceiling' - in other words they are insisting that we pay for the Government's debts, even though they have refused any valuation to justify their attacks. So that means we still pay more, to get less and retire older - yet Brendan Barber wants us to settle on Monday!

If these union leaders have no stomach for a fight, then they have no right to call themselves a leadership. They will be guilty of accepting a pensions robbery which, just two weeks ago, we were all united in saying was unjustified and unacceptable. They will demoralise and undermine our united movement and invite the Government to go on the attack on jobs, facility time, TUPE, pay bargaining, capability procedures -  and all the other attacks that they have lined up.

So put out an urgent call in every union - don't cave-in. Call the Government's bluff and announce the next day of united strike action in January!

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