At the end of November Public Sector workers in the UK took part in a National Strike.
David Cameron called it a damp squib that had failed to cause the disruption promised. However such huge strikes by Public Sector workers are never beneficial. Everyone loses. The workers lose pay which will never be recovered, the customers lose a service and the government either loses face or a working relationship with its workers.
Now it seems that the UK government has decided to implement its proposed pension changes, although no agreement has been reached.
The changes will in essence increase the retirement age for civil servants and public sector workers. They will have to pay into their pension schemes for longer but receive less back in return. The final change is the amount of money which they contribute into their pension scheme. Yes, you have guessed correctly. It will increase.
All in all a no win situation for the workers. Added to an existing pay freeze, which will be replaced when it ends with a pay increase cap Public Sector workers are not happy. You can say that at least they have a job but with public sector job cuts also on the cards that may not be true.
Following the line of thinking that these workers "should be grateful" to have a job is dangerous. Conservative governments soon latch onto such thoughts and sentiments and utilise them to their own ends. The axe is still chopping services, pay, rights and jobs and who knows where it will land next.
The Unions have understandably claimed that the government's announcement, that the changes will be implemented in April 2012, is both "unfair and unacceptable" The government's schools minister confirmed, ."Our changes for next year are about keeping pensions affordable for future generations of teachers - while protecting new and low income staff from the biggest contribution increases over the next few years," The pension reform proposal has supposedly been improved since the National Strike.
Obviously the Unions hold a different view. A spokesperson for the PCS union said, "The government has confirmed it is prepared to ignore the views of the vast majority of the respondents to its consultation on increasing contributions for civil servants, and will try to impose what it has planned to do all along. This is an unfair and unacceptable tax on public sector workers and we will continue to oppose it."
Guess it is a case of watch this space.
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog