Discussion in 'Off-Topic Chat' started by Blower, Nov 30, 2011.
Was the strike today justified?
Is this intended to create debate or stir the proverbial?
Bit of both really, private sector has had to suffer (generally) and adopt to the current economic climate, why should public sector be protected at taxpayers cost?
I thought this was a brass band forum? Do we need people like Blower on the site?
John, have you got all those new buttons sorted out yet?
this thread is in the 'Random off topic' area so no problem with the thread.
I think Blower makes a valid point, shared by me, I have no personal pension because I can't afford to pay into one but my taxes are used to support public sector pensions, why?
No surprise where I will stand on this one !!
First off , one of the most invidious devices employed by both this government and the last has been the creation of this division between private and public sector workers. I've argued before on here that we all need to stand together in this climate as we are all equally screwed.
Another artificial division is this one between public secor workers and taxpayers- we in the public sector pay taxes too !! I'm looking at a payslip here and note that I made the following contributions in that month - PAYE £600+, NI £300+ and Pension £260+.
I was on the picket line yesterday , in some senses with a heavy heart as I know that the service we dellivered to our patients was impacted and the Trust also took a hit , and our dispute is not with them but with the goverment. But what other way do we have of making a challenge to the goverment ?
With regard to pensions specifically , our regional UNISON chair made the point yesterday that these were renegotiated (downwards) in 2008. If there are to be further changes ( and in the economic climate I doubt that there are many of us who don't see that some change is needed) then let these be negotiated (as in 2008 ) and not forced on us. What this dispute is about is the unilateral changing , by the state ,of our terms and conditions of employment - not necessarily the levels per se of our pensions.
As for these "Gold Plated "pensions - have a look at this article from the BBC a day or two ago :http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15925017
Admittedly the average is skewed by the number of civil servants , judges and MPs at the very top of the scale but the average state pension payout is nwhere near this level. Again , the ruling classes are using taxpayers money in this instance not to support retired healthcare assistants and teachers but to feather the beds of their own kind via the public sector pension scheme that will never give the majority these levels of payouts. I for one would quite happily see these high earners have their pensions capped.
As a letter in last night's Evening Standard succinctly put it (and I paraphrase here ) the bankers and City high rollers are getting their bonuses again , bosses are pulling in large remuneration settlements but apparently its the "politics of envy" to challenge these. Yet apparently its ok for the givernment to foster the envy of the private sector to go after a dinner ladies pension of £7 k a year ?
What yesterday has showed ,given that the givernment have asked the teaching unions back to the table today , and health unions on Friday (no doubt in an attempt to divide us ! ) for further negotiations, is that by standing together we achieve more than when we stand alone.
I say to all of you in the private sector - get unionised and stand with us.
The economy is going belly up , especially as and when the eurozone flops and you can bet that Cameron , Clegg , Osbourne , Blair and the whole sorry lot of them will be insulated from this when it happens. We , the workers , can't go running back to daddy's mansion and our inherited money and privilege so lets start fighting now.
but you don't pay into my pension scheme, unless you would like to and I can make the arrangements.
Public sector workers are, in general, in a safer job with a better pension than most private sector workers, you should be grateful.
Your employer, the UK, is currently in a tough financial position and, like any employer in a similar situation, cannot continue to work in the same way. Changes have to happen.
Yesterday put in all in perspective for me.
I have no money to spend on clothes, I haven't had a hair cut for 4 months (I look a hobo), I haven't had a holiday for 4 years abroad or UK, cannot even put a fiver into a pension, cannot afford to go to band as I travel 40mile each way to work. The list goes on.
However, my company have shut an office down yesterday and a number of my work collegues (and friends) face a christmas without I job. How lucky am I?
Be thankful for what you have because there are people who would swop places with you!
The main thing to come out of yesterday - which I'm disappointed no political commentators picked up on - was this. No-one seems to know what a public sector pension is - and here's why. There are well over 100 schemes, all operated different ways, all funded different ways. If you take mine (for example) stevetrom, you don't pay anything into that at all, because you don't live in Leeds. My emloyee contributions come from my wages, and my employer contributions come from the council staffing budget - which comes from local council tax (which is now frozen). And when I retire, what I'm payed out is funded by the assets bought with those contributions. (at present about 7.8bn worth of assets, even after repeated stock-market turmoil.) So my pension fund is not ony fair, it's sustainable. Yes, it's currently running at a small deficit (outgoings are slightly higher than incomings) but as lord Hutton himself has already said, we are at the very highest point of stress on all pension funds, because the baby-boomers are all retiring. Over the next ten years this stress will reduce - and is extremely unlikely to completely remove all of the assets which underwrite the various funds - so they will gradually return to surplus.
There are massive inequalities in the various systems already. Civil service, for example, pay an average of 3-3.5% of their salary for pensions. Local government pay 6-8%.
I genuinely believe the whole issue could be solved by copying the successful funded pension funds and applying them blanket accross the public sector as a whole.
One important issue which got buried under the pensions furore was part of George Osborne's mid-term review, in which he confirmed that unemployment benefit will rise in line with inflation - at 5.2%.
There will be no corresponding rise in the minimum wage.
Is that not just a complete smack in the face for those who bother to go out and get themselves a job? (In both public and private sectors.) If you stay home and switch on Trisha, you get an increase (ok, in real terms you break even) whereas if you go out and take a job as a cleaner or a caretaker or a street-sweeper, you get shafted and take a real-term pay-cut!
Yeah thanks George. That helps the working families of Britain a bundle.... you plank.....
I made the mistake of going Christmas shopping yesterday (i'm on holiday) and the places I went were disproportionately heaving. Picketing and demonstrating from M&S? Oh I think so. We're not especially militant or unionised in Cornwall but do have an extremely high unemployment rate so these strikes have not been well received especiailly by people who view teachers (or indeed anyone with perceived large salaries and jobs for life) with disdain. My sister and brother-in-law who are both teachers did not strike as they realise that they earn a massive salary in a place where you're lucky to pull in 11K after tax. Of course all of this is Margaret Thatcher's fault and only the bravery of unions can stop the plummet into the void.
I must remember to ask my MP (who is a public sector worker) what changes to the MP's pension scheme are being planned. In fact, perhaps we could all do that?
Now that IS worrying. You are one of the few people who could back up your words with direct hits to the brain.
The teacher's pension is paid for by teachers. Indeed successive governments have plundered the pot for many years. To say it is unaffordable is simply dishonest.
Do you have children Stevetrom? If so, who looks after them during the day? If they go to school then why should you get that for free?
My (company) pension changed from a final salary to a career average scheme five and a half years ago. There was no negotiation, no warning, nothing. People like me, who had been at the company for more than three years were given a choice - either the new 60th scheme with a career average, or go to an even worse 80th career average scheme that paid out even less of a percentage of your contributions. So the choice was this: a scheme that's worse than the one you have currently or one that is much worse. People who had less than three years service at the time were told they had to go onto the 80th scheme.
When this all came about we were pretty much told to take what was being offered or ****** off to another company whose scheme is probably the same or even worse than ours.
Oh and while they were at it the contributions percentage increased by 50% over the next two years too.
...and then they took away the minimum retirement age. A colleague said to me that soon they will "expect you to die at your desk, wheel your body out to the skip in the yard and then pay your widow the death in service benefit, because this is less than your total fund..."
...and I haven't had a pay rise in the last three years either.
...and my fuel bill has increased significantly over the last few years too.
So I am seeing less from my salary (no pay rise plus increased pension contributions) and I have to pay more to get to work. And this is before I start to talk about inflation, heating costs, food prices etc etc.
So, all that said I do have sympathy for the public sector workers, but only up to a point. I don't see why I should be paying (through tax) for someone else to get a pension scheme that is unobtainable for me, or why I should have to take the brunt of the countries financial mess while others continue to get pay rises and pension schemes as if nothing has happened. Yes we should stand shoulder to shoulder, but how about the public sector helping to support those of us in the private section that have already been screwed over? Why should we pay for it all?
Incidentally, my wife works for the NHS and we had our financial guy round last night looking at her pension options. On the new scheme, despite her earning significantly less than me, and being able to retire several years earlier, her final pension will be within 3% of mine, so this hated new pension scheme is still right up there with the best anyone in the private sector can get.
Oh and yesterday? Instead of striking I was working designing machinery for export in order that my company can sell stuff to foreign countries (you know those ones who actually have some money) therefore getting revenue in to prop up our own beleaguered economy. I say this to make a single point: we keep hering how important public section workers are to the country. I don't doubt that for one second, however I do find it a little patronising that in some quarters (i.e from some union leaders and the odd public sector worker) it seems to be the view that its the public sector and only the public sector that's important. Frankly, that is as much BS as anything George Osbourne has said over the last few weeks - for the country to succeed and grow it takes all of us, both public and private sectors to do their bit, therefore each should be treated with equal respect.
Actually thats probably illegal, and you might have a case for taking them to court. Employers are legally obliged to give you advance notice to changes in your terms and conditions (30 day minimum I think). Just doing it would be illegal.
Ian. A few points to consider, if I may.
1) The only reason the private sector can get away with treating people like this is that successive governments - and a climate of self-interest intentionally bred by successive governments - has all but crushed trade union presence in the private sector. Those who still have a union are normally former national utilities (BA, Railways etc.) so there is mostly no mechanism through which private employees can campaign for a better deal - which they undoubtedly deserve. Combine this with the attitude where people will not sacrifice a day's pay for something that doesn't necessarily affect them directly (more on that later) and this is largely responsible for why the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer. It was a situation very similar to this - where the rich quaffed champagne daily and the poor worked themselves to death or starved in the street - which eventually led to the formation of the very first trade unions back in the 19th century..... formed in the private sector I might add.
2) your comment about "When this all came about we were pretty much told to like what was being offered or ****** off to another company whose scheme is probably the same or even worse than ours." I appreciate that and I understand it. Tell me, what would you suggest Teachers do? Or Nurses? Or Social Care workers? Or the people who run battered women's refuges, Homeless hostels and Children's Care Homes? They aren't in it for the money - but that doesn't mean they should be targeted for year-on-year pay-cuts and a retirement of miserable penury. Would you honestly do their jobs?
3) I'll see your three year lack of a payrise and raise you five years of below-inflation payrises (effectively pay-cuts) followed by a three-year pay freeze. Labour gave us a kicking, now we're getting another one from the tories. If I can't find another job I'll be about 20-25% worse off by the time the 1% cap is lifted. (And that's 1% we definitely won't get, I might add.....)
4) Public sector workers buy petrol too.
5) With the greatest respect to your wife, the NHS pension fund is run hand-to-mouth, the same as the civil service scheme. Money comes in from employee/employer contributions and immediately goes out on pension payments - and at the moment (as is the same with a lot of pension schemes) more goes out than comes in. This is the problem. Other schemes - particularly teachers and local government are also in a similar deficit because of the baby-boomers, but are underwritten by assets which can be used to offset this deficit in the long term. WYPF, which I pay to, has made a small loss over the last 5-6 years, but is projected to return to profit under current payment arrangements by 2017 - so there is no need to change it. The changes proposed will not actually save the taxpayer any money at all because the employer contribution rate is not cut. What happens is a dramatic increase in the amount the employee contribution (about £1200 a year in my case!) and a huge increase in the amount that the treasury (ie: the banks) take off the top. So what happens? There's no incentive for people to pay into the fund any more if they don;t already have a sizeable number of years built up. So long-term, the fund collapses, and people taking up employemnt with the state are forced to pay into provate pensions. The state washes it's hands of it's duty of care and Mrs Thatcher smile at a job well done. Put simply it's not a scheme to save the taxpayer money - it's another way of bailing out the banks and forcing public assets into the private sector.
Stella I have to take issue with your argument. If public sector jobs are so good, then get one! You'll be surprised! And - as Lord Hutton put it - "this should not become a race to the bottom." Rather than thinking along the lines of "I can't afford what I used to be able to, so all Council workers should be poor like me!" Why not try thinking along the lines of "I can't afford what I used to be able to, but Mr Banker still has his Ferrari and he owes the treasury over £200bn!" It's not the people who empty your bins that you should be angry with here!
Andi - as ever, very elequent points and I will answer them - or some of them - later when I have time, as I really ought to be getting back to work.
For now let me put this another way: Would you be willing to put a small percentage of your salary aside to allow all private sector pensions to be final salary schemes too?
Tell you what Ian. I'll put aside as much of my salary to pay for your pension as you pay of mine, OK?
So let's pretend you live in leeds, and your council tax does actually go towards paying my wages and ultimately my pension. The population of Leeds is 443247 at the last count.
Me pension contributions are 7% of my salary (which I pay) and about 16% which my employer pays - so this is the bit that a taxpayer could potentially argue is "their" money.
So say my salary is around £20k, Right? So 16% of that divided by the number of households in leeds - everyone in Leeds pays 0.007p per year of their council tax towards my retirement. With all due respect, you can spend more than that by leaving your TV on standby while you wash up.
That's how small the 'savings' in the case of local authority pensions actually are. Even if you scale that up over the whole council -Lcc being one of the biggest authorities in the north - it only employs 20000 people, and a lot of them are on significantly smaller salaries than mine. And yes, there are significantly higher salaries than mine - but the employee contribution rate at those levels is also higher so the picture remains largely the same.
I've previously mentioned assets. You know where the assets underwriting local authority pensions mostly are? Some are in government bonds (so the treasury has that money anyway) the rest is largely invested in either realestate, which is then rented to local businesses, or in the stocks and shares of the businesses themselves - so the fund atually gives something back to the local community as well.
Rather than persecuting public sector workers, I should think the governemnt should be introducing legislation to make the private sector set up pension schemes like ours. Or better yet - setting the pension scheme up via the state, having companies pay into it compulsarily as part of their corporation tax and and using the incoming revenue to support the treasury.
Separate names with a comma.