Socialist Workers Party statement on government 'concessions' over pensions dispute

2nd November 2011

The “concessions” offered by the government to trade unions today are

absolutely no basis for settling the pensions dispute.

 

It is more important than ever that everyone throws themselves into

building the strike votes, demonstrations and wider solidarity for a

mass strike on 30 November.

 

For many months the unions have campaigned against the government’s

proposals because they mean workers will pay more to build up their

pensions, will have to work up to eight years longer in order to

receive them, and will then see them eroded by inflation because the

coalition government has implemented a new and lower measure for their

uprating.

 

None of these three fundamentals are affected by the proposals made

today. The only movement is over the proportion of salary added each

year to determine the size of the final salary pension. And even here

all the government is doing is to withdraw one of the attacks it

unveiled recently!

 

It is therefore a lie for the government to suggest that the pensions

of low-paid workers will be as good as they would have been before.

They will work longer to get them, and they will be smaller when (or

if) they live long enough to collect them.

 

Such “concessions” are a drop in the ocean which could be accepted

only by those who have lost all confidence in the strength of workers

to resist injustice.

 

The Tories and their Lib Dem allies are determined to make workers pay

for the crisis caused by the bankers and the bosses. The pension

changes taken together are designed to rob some £10 billion from

workers every year. This is not because the schemes are

“unsustainable”—they are in order to reduce the deficit caused by

bailing out the bosses.

 

It is a disgrace that instead of dismissing the government’s insult,

TUC leader Brendan Barber has said that unions should now go away and

consider whether this is enough to call off what should be the biggest

strike since 1926.

 

Instead of dividing the resistance in this way, it’s time to unite the

resistance.

 

Trade union leaders should be exposing the reality of the pension

changes and campaigning against them as part of a broader fightback

against the Tories’ assault on welfare, services, pay and jobs.

 

Across the globe—from Egypt to Greece, from Portugal to Chile, from

the United States to St Paul’s Cathedral—people are resisting the rule

of profit. The pension strike on 30 November can be a hugely important

leap forward in building the struggle here against the Tory-Lib Dem

coalition.

 

And instead of denouncing the strikes, Labour Party leaders ought to

be supporting them.

 

We urge everyone to come to the Unite the Resistance convention in

London on 19 November (uniteresist.org) and to keep building for 30

November.