It is disappointing that government failed to engage in reasonable talks and discuss their proposed imposed changes to public sector pensions. The changes that were announced in advance of the study they had commissioned to evaluate those pensions.

The lack of proper negotiation led to the action that was taken by public sector workers today.

I found it quite infuriating to hear less than honest words spoken in the House today.

Dawn is Breaking

Strength of Feeling

Defending Rights

Below is an email sent from an MP to a PCS member last week.  Highlighted in red are some key points:

Thank you for your email about the strikes next week. I have to be in Westminster next Wednesday, however my position is clear and this is what I am saying to anyone who contacts me.

The government must bear much of the responsibility for what is happening now because it jumped the gun and has, in effect, imposed a 3% tax on public sector workers, before John Hutton published his final report on public sector pensions, and then refused to negotiate on this crucial issue. This surcharge has nothing to do with the sustainability of public sector pensions and will hit public sector workers on low incomes hard.

It increasingly seems that the government is happy to see a disruptive strike. According to the Daily Telegraph, David Cameron has privately said that he is ‘delighted’ that the unions have walked into his ‘trap’. This is no way to approach the long term needs of the country and workers who believed they had a deal on their pensions when they set out on a public service career.. The constant mantra about “gold plated” pensions is quite frankly insulting. The average pension paid to pensioner members is around £7,800 per year, while the median payment is around £5,600. Half of women public service pensioners get less than £4,000 a year.

If more people opt out of occupational schemes because they cannot afford to pay this increase, it could end up costing the tax payer more in the future as more people rely on means tested benefits. The imposition of a 3% surcharge for all employees is not only unfair in the short term but also risks the sustainability of public sector pension schemes in the long term.

The government announced a three pence in the pound increase in contributions in the October Spending Review, long before Lord Hutton had published his final report. The 3 pence in the pound increase has nothing to do with the wider reform agenda outlined by Hutton. It is a measure which is simply geared towards paying down the deficit by squeezing public sector workers. The increase was imposed without any negotiation with public sector unions. This increase amounts to a 3p in the pound increase in tax for public sector workers, at a time when they are already facing a pay freeze, higher inflation partly driven by the government’s VAT increase, not to mention the biggest squeeze in living standards in a generation.

I know that people who rely on services don’t want to see a strike: from parents who will have to take a day off work to those who rely on home help. And public sector workers— nursing assistants, teachers and dinner ladies—also care too much about the people they serve day in day out to consider action as anything other than a last resort.

Rather than telling hundreds of thousands of low paid, part-time working men and women who are set to be much worse off that they should not strike, David Cameron should be taking responsibility and trying to negotiate a deal that’s fair to public sector workers and taxpayers alike. That is what I want to see and that is why I support the action that union members are taking..

My recent series of posts on pensions only skim the surface of why so many ordinary people decided to take strike action today.

18 Comments CherryPie on Nov 30th 2011

18 Responses to “Dawn is Breaking”

  1. jameshigham says:

    It is disappointing that government failed to engage in reasonable talks and discuss their proposed imposed changes

    And now Grayling is backtracking in Brussels as well. It’s the agenda, Cherie.

  2. Twilight says:

    Thanks for this. I’d no doubt be among those “out” if still in the UK and not retired! I always refused to go “out” when a raise in pay was the only issue, but this is different.

    I have a civil service pension from 24 years on the admin side of Employment Tribunals – and am eternally grateful for it. We always accepted that our pay scales were somewhat lower than those of comparable jobs in lawyers’ offices simply because we knew there’d be a (fairly) decent pension at the end of it.

    • CherryPie says:

      Yes the reason civil servants choose to stay in the jobs for less money is because they had a guaranteed pension when they retired. For the last few years new starters have been given a different sort of pension to people who were employed before that.

      This current government changed a law so the compensation that kicks into play when you are made redundant could be altered so they could pay out less. They did this knowing they were going to get rid of great numbers of civil servants as part of their programme of cuts. Therefore altering existing terms and conditions.

      They are now trying to do this with pensions too!

  3. Andrew says:

    Still… at least you did get a chance for this year’s photo of dawn rather than dusk :)

    Or do I do you a disservice and there have been sunrises I missed?

    I think I’ll get a nice sunrise photo for myself soon too, since there’s never a more civilised time to do it than December

  4. Crash Ryan says:

    another sign of global “enough is enough”

  5. liz says:

    Infuriating but can’t be a surprise surely?

  6. Chrissy says:

    It was all the lies that finally convinced me to strike. I have never despised a government with so much passion in my life. I have to try not to think about it for my own sanity. I will vote for anyone rather that the Tories next time! David Cameron is in my opinion the lowest of the low…..I cannot think of anyone I detest more with the exception perhaps of Frances Maude!

    • CherryPie says:

      The lies are so blatant aren’t they? I turned on the BBC footage to see if the strike had been covered and if so what sort of spin was being used and was faced by bare faced lies!! Lies that are so blatant that anyone should be able to see through them. Yet still people don’t…

      I am usually quite a calm person but I have to admit to feeling quite angry when I saw that footage.

      • Chrissy says:

        I think being in amongst it makes it all so much more obvious and there is such a sense of betrayal. I confess that if I find myself getting too angry, I ban myself from the news for a few days. The media are not helping too much right now either and one can’t help wondering who is actually controlling them ~ scary times!

        • CherryPie says:

          I have to confess to rarely watching the news because I know that mainly it is biased. I am not sure if it is controlled or if they are just feathering their own nests in their own interests to make money…

          Whatever way we look at it we are living in scary times and that is sad :-/

  7. Sean Jeating says:

    Taking the title as what I think it is thought, i.e. a metapher:
    Why would I come to think that there will first have to come some nights darker than ‘ordinary’ nights until this very Dawn will be breaking.
    At this point of the spiral (you may replace ’spiral’ by ‘thumbscrew’) demonstrations of this calibre won’t change much, if anything.

    As for the Camerons, Hagues & Osbornes. Are you sure the Blairs, Browns & Milibands are / were better?!
    An elderly Lady (87) uses to quote what when she was a girl an aunt had been telling her: “The troughs remain, only the pigs change.”
    And this very aunt had told her niece that she only quoted what her father had been told by his grandfather who …

    The peace of the night.l
    May there be a promising dawn to come.

    • CherryPie says:

      The title was meant on many levels and one of them was a metaphor ;-)

      As to which of the political flavours (or the identities that lead them) are/were better (or worse). They are all the same, they wish to remain in power. They forget that it is the people who put them in the position gave them that power.

      Sadly most people don’t understand this, if they did… Things would be different.

      This latest demo has got the government on the back-foot, I expect some dirty tactics to take place in the next few weeks.

      I think the dawn will be far from promising, but I live in hopes…

      I wish you the peace of the night too :-)