Pensions agreement torn up - unions slammed

Predictions that a compromise agreement used by union chiefs to stand down strike actions over government pensions would fuel futher attacks are to be dramatically fulfilled.

Submitted by Freedom on June 26, 2006

Leaked documents from Downing Street have proposed that Whitehall officials pay for at least half the cost of increases to pensions in the future. State contributions would be capped at 20%.

Anarchist groups including the Solidarity Federation and Anarchist Federation said after a deal was struck in March between the TUC and Office of The Deputy Prime Minister that it amounted to a sell-out of future workers, and would lead to further attacks from the government.

One member of anarcho-syndicalist group Solfed said: "When the union leaders called off further action earlier this year, we said at the time that it was a pathetic climbdown, and would clearly lead to further attacks. This has happened even sooner than expected, barely a couple of months later, and thanks to the sellout, the unions no longer have the impetus, or the trust of their membership.

"The whole pensions 'struggle' has been a debacle, and the union hierarchy has badly let down its membership - again. How much longer must we keep paying the dues for these people to undermine us at every turn when we can deal with it ourselves?"

In the most recent issue of Resistance!, The Anarchist Federation newsletter, one writer said: "The government, whose members are in line for whopping great retirement pensions, are working out ways
of cutting the pensions of ordinary working people, while making them work until they drop. Make no bones about it, this is a major attack.

“And what are the unions doing about it? One day strikes here, and one day strikes there. Given the low-key response to the pensions crisis the government is hardly quaking in its boots.

“Contrast this softly, softly approach to what the French workers and students achieved in March and April of this year. The French government brought in a measure which meant that young workers under 26 within a two year trial period could be sacked by their bosses without explanation.

“And what was the response of the French working class? Well, millions of them including young workers, students, older workers, families and pensioners took to the streets. Not content with peaceful passive protests, they turned to more dramatic, and effective, methods of persuasion. There were riots, street clashes, many blockades of rail tracks and motorways. France erupted into anger.

“And what was the outcome? The law was scrapped and the humiliated government has been forced to pay massive subsidies (£104 million per year) to encourage firms to take on young unqualified staff."

Unions promised a 'robust' response to the move, though no-one was available to directly comment on Sunday.

- Freedom Extra, Rob Ray -