Tuesday, 29 November 2011

On the eve of battle

So, dear readers, you won't be hearing from me tomorrow, unless I manage to snatch a few minutes from our pickets and rally to document the workers' struggle. I've got a Moomins flask (mint tea) and a hip flask (raw meths).

Joking aside, striking's no fun, especially in the cold and rain, but it's got to be done. Today George Osborne yet again decided that passengers on private jets don't have to pay tax. Meanwhile, he and his millionaire friends have decided that cleaners, nurses, teachers and civil servants should work longer, pay more and get less. We're not being asked to contribute more in return for a decent retirement: we're being asked to contribute more to subsidise the tax-evasion and trickery of the financial sector.

I won't get many years' pension contributions: an MA, a PhD and years of casual labour saw to that. Nor will I get many years' pension: my retirement age will be 68 and men live to about 78-80. I'm not demanding a yacht with a Zimmer frame ramp, but I would like not to have to worry about how to heat my hovel.

Some of my friends in the private sector ask why I should cling on to 'gold-plated' pensions when they don't get much. They're looking at it wrongly: don't drag us down, organise and pull yourselves up. There's no lack of money. The Teachers' Pension Fund, the NHS pension pot: they're all fully funded. Likewise in the private sector: if there's enough money for CEOs to earn on average 140 times more than the employee, there's enough money for decent pensions too.

Don't forget, pensions aren't some kind of reward: they're deferred wages. Increasing our contributions while cutting our pensions is a thinly-disguised pay cut. Oh, and to correct a common misconception: we're docked 1/260th of our wages every time we strike. This time, we've finally managed to persuade the boss that the cash should go into the Student Hardship fund, rather than into the coffers.

It's good for the economy as well. Pensions are spent, often in the local economy, whereas share dividends, bonuses and high executive pay is hidden away offshore, where it can't pay the local baker, car mechanic or cleaner, let alone build schools and hospitals. Decent wages and pensions make the economy go round.

Come and say hello tomorrow. We're not wreckers or militants. We're workers, just like you, and we're doing this for everyone. Bring cake.


Rob Spence said...

Thanks for posting this. It's the most succinct and pithy account of why we should stand together in solidarity that I have seen. I don't think our action will change Dave or Gideon's minds, but it will make a statement. Best of luck on the picket line.

ed said...

'Bring cake' - now there's a position I can support!

But sincerely, best wishes Voley. I'd like to think that any government that ticks off librarians and educators can't last that long...