Jun 222011

Next Thursday will see teachers across the country go on strike in an effort to stop the government’s proposed changes to their pensions. Under the government’s plans, teachers will pay 50% more into their pension each month, that’s an extra £80 to £130 each month. In return teachers will get a smaller pension, potentially a much smaller pension – they could lose 5% for every year before 68 that they retire, so a 60-year-old teacher that can’t look after a class full of 6 year olds anymore would lose 40% of their pension. The government have said that the current pension system is unaffordable. No figures have been produced by the government to support this claim – none.

At a meeting in Cambridge the other day someone referred to David Cameron’s use of the expression ‘apartheid pensions’. It was originally used back in 2008 but I missed it at the time.

Not only is it a despicable choice of language but it also doesn’t make any sense. To end ‘apartheid pensions’ should mean raising private sector pensions not lowering public sector pensions. I’m pretty sure the anti-apartheid movement was about everyone having rights not everyone losing them. Or maybe not, maybe David Cameron’s thinks poor pensions and poverty in old age is as desirable an aim having non-racist system of government.

But it isn’t supposed to make sense; it’s all about creating an impression through the use of certain terms. It’s about equating teachers and other public sector workers having a decent pension with a disgusting regime that decided that what rights people have would based on the colour of the skin. It’s about making the destruction of a decent pension system for hard working people a morally desirable cause rather than an attack on working people by a government that governs in the interests of the richest in society.

When people talk about fairness between private and public sector pensions, they mean that it is unfair for teachers, nurses and firemen to have better pensions than people who work in the private sector but shouldn’t fairness means everyone has access to a decent pension? What we really need is for private sector workers to have access to a government run pension scheme that they can pay in to.

Publically owned banks that had to be bailed out are paying exorbitant bonuses and wages to bankers. Apparently there’s nothing that can be done about that, no matter how unfair it is.

The Tories and other right wing parties across the world are turning us into fools by making us think that we should pay for the economic crisis and persuading us that other ordinary workers are responsible for any economic woes we might have.

Shouldn’t fairness mean that when the richest people in Britain have never been so rich, that they should be the ones paying for the economic hard times, especially when those hard times are as a result of economic policies that directly benefited the richest people in Britain? The richest 1000 people made another £78 billion in the last year. It’s time they started to pay.

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