Monday, April 20, 2009

The Tories Easter threat to our pensions

I am so glad that I was supervising a belated Easter Egg hunt rather than watching George Osborne on the Andrew Marr show yesterday!

The would-be Chancellor of the Exchequer said; "When it comes to pensions, I'm not bound by any deal that the Labour Party has done with the public sector unions," and that "public sector pensions are actually a long-term burden on the state."

This fits neatly alongside what his leader said in November. He said that "my vision over time is to move increasingly towards defined contribution rather than final salary schemes". Whereas a final salary, or any other defined benefit, scheme delivers some certainty about income in retirement (surely one of the main points of a pension) defined contribution (or "money purchase") schemes amount to an invitation to gamble your retirement income on the stock market.

No thanks.

I'm no cheerleader for this terrible New Labour Government, but it is pretty clear that the Tories in power would be worse for UNISON members - these threats to the pensions of public sector workers being an obvious case in point.

I draw two conclusions about how UNISON should respond. First we need to put pressure on this Government to adopt progressive and popular policies that could fight the recession and save us from the prospect of a Tory Government (I know it's a long shot but I'm an optimist).

Secondly though we need also to prepare for the possibility of confronting the Tories in power (as many of our local government branches already are of course!) This does mean that we need a leadership who are both willing and able to lead a fight to defend the interests of our members.

Regular readers (Sid and Doris Blogger) will by now have worked out who I mean - and that I am going to urge you to vote for the candidates of the left in the UNISON NEC elections.

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