Adele Reynolds argues that the slashing of publish sector pensions should be a youth issue.
Adele Reynolds, a UNISON member from Manchester, writes on how the coalition’s pension changes are destroying the promise of Britain
From the trebling of tuition fees, to the scrapping of EMA, to the swinging cuts to local authority youth services, it is clear that young people are being targeted through the coalition government’s austerity program. Sadly, as Ed Milliband has articulated with such vigour, the promise of Britain, that assumption that each generation will pass to the next a life of greater opportunity, prosperity and wellbeing; is well and truly over.
Nowhere is this more than evident than in the attacks on public service pensions. The government speaks the rhetoric of gold plated public sector pensions; but the reality is that of low paid part time women often receiving around £60 a week. Hardly gold plated.
That’s why members of my own trade union UNISON recently voted overwhelmingly in favour of taking industrial action to defend their pensions in the biggest ballot the union has ever held. And I was particularly proud to see members of Young Labour very clearly stating that they support the day of action on November 30th.
Now more than ever young people need to stand together and defend the hard won rights that our parents and grandparents fought for. Universal public services, the welfare state, decent jobs, the minimum wage and yes pensions. It’s time young people stood together to say that we won’t see these hard won rights eroded because of a financial crisis that no public service worker created.
That support from Young Labour was so significant because these changes will really hit young workers who will have to work longer and pay more in contributions more only to get a smaller pension when they eventually retire.
To add insult to injury with many young workers suffering from low pay, student debt and rising living costs, increasingly it might seem too expensive to join a pension scheme, particularly when drawing that pension appears a very long way into the future.
Be in no doubt, despite the fact that we won’t feel the pain of them for many years, these unprecedented attacks on our pensions are probably the most serious attack that young people face.
If you still remain unconvinced as to why, just ask yourself the following questions:
• Why should low paid public service workers pay more to work longer and then at the end of their working life receive a worse pension?
• Why should ministers get away with using CPI rather than RPI, which has already reduced the value of public service pensions by over 10 per cent?
• Why should public service workers be subjected to what amounts to a three per cent pay cut through a 50 per cent increase in pensions contributions when public sector pension schemes are cash rich and affordable?
• And why on earth should public service workers pay for a recession caused by the excessive risk taking and greed of the banking sector?
The time has come to stand together to safeguard our pension schemes, protecting the rights of those who are already entitled to a decent pension and defending and extending those rights for future generations of young people.
As young activists come together on November 30th to stand in solidarity with millions of public service workers taking action against these pension changes, let’s remember the campaigns we fight in partnership with young workers in the trade union movement aren’t just about jobs, they aren’t just about pay and they aren’t just about pensions.
They are about the kind of society we want to leave for future generations. Let’s say enough is enough, take a stand and deliver on the promise of Britain that the next generation should always do better than the last.
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• Hutton repeats his big fat lie on public sector pensions – Alex Hern, November 4th 2011
• Cameron’s talk won’t solve the pensions crisis – Barbara Bates, October 5th 2011
• Osborne dreaming of a race to the bottom – Alex Hern, October 3rd 2011
• Osborne’s attacks on pensions are based on ideology, not necessity – Dave Prentis, July 25th 2011
• Moving the goalposts on pensions is unfair and unjust – Rachel Reeves MP, June 20th 2011