The workers’ movement, in developing its tactics around particular issues can be seen at times to concentrate the weight of its conscience around specific issues. In response to the resistance against neo-liberal anti-social activity, which seeks to undermine People’s Rights, the Trades Unions are undertaking many struggles across the board on Pensions Rights. Here and now, workers are working out how to take the offensive. They are not only resisting the cause of threats to their pensions they are considering solutions to ensure that a fully funded livelihood in old age is guaranteed.
As we can all see in recent times, pensions for women has been under attack, specifically for those born in thw 1950’s who have arbitrarily had their retirement ages raised, hence the formation of the WASPI campaign. Also the triple lock on pensions has been under scrutiny by Government. The various destructions of final salary pension schemes and messing about with the schemes we have, has shown that the Government or the Westminster cartel of political parties cannot guarantee pension rights for all at any stage.
There are various struggles that are taking place such as the Lecturers’ strikes in Universities, led by the UCU (University and College Union) . 64 universities struck work over pensions. More than one million students were affected, with lecturers not teaching, marking or carrying out research. Demonstrations showed that the Students widely supported their actions because their rights to a decent education are also involved if the conditions and morale of lecturers is undermined. The fact is at present, the lecturers struggle is in the forefront for us all, dismissing any backward arguments about it being nothing to do with them. In this struggle we can see that, AN INJURY TO ONE IS AN INJURY TO ALL and solidarity is the order of the day.
Why are lecturers striking?
Lecturers who are members of the UCU are angry at proposed changes to their pensions, which they say could leave them up to £10,000 a year worse off in retirement. The employers, Universities UK, want to change the Universities Superannuation Scheme from a defined benefit scheme – giving a guaranteed retirement income – to a defined contribution scheme, where their pensions would be subject to changes in the stock market. Younger lecturers would be worst affected, says the union, with some losing up to half their pensions. The funds contained in pensions are now widely used as a business funding source on the stock market. Speculators prey upon funds and there is even theft of various pension schemes to prop up or bail out failing monopolies.
There are many other pensions struggles.
The recent fraud at TATA Steel illustrates how “vulture” capitalists plunder from workers who seek to invest sums towards their pensions.
In the predatory bidding for GKN at the moment, various commentators want to discuss reducing company commitments to pensions causing it to be more profitable and attractive to venture capitalists. The notion of a pensions deficit is capital-centred and part of what helps pensions to be treated as fair game both by companies and the circling vultures. Pensions are a rightful claim by retired workers on the value they themselves created, a claim that the owners of capital are constantly trying to claw back through pressurising workers and their unions into making concessions.
BT (British Telecom.) launched a formal 60 day consultation on proposed changes to the company pension scheme on 15th November 2017. The CWU (Communication Workers’ Union) has not reached agreement on any of the proposals. BT’s proposals could radically change pension provision across the company with both the BTPS and BTRSS members affected by different proposals, which the union believes fail to provide decent pension provision in retirement, the CWU are urging members to firmly say no to all of BT’s proposals for both schemes.
Prison officers and their union POA (Prison officers Association) are petitioning the Government through 38 degrees saying, ” I want the Government to re-address the issue of the pension age of Prison Officers from 68 to 60″. It is a reported fact, that the job of a Prison Officer is one of the most stressful jobs in the country. It is a fact that most Prison Officers don’t make their retirement age and if they do they don’t make it much past the retirement age of 60 let alone 68.
On 21 March 2017, circular 2017HOC0176MW informed the FBU (Fire brigades Union) members that the union had filed an appeal in relation to the decision made by the Employment Tribunal in the age discrimination claims made by more than 6,000 firefighters, regarding the introduction of the 2015 Firefighters’ Pension Scheme.
There are many more unions involved in the pensions’ struggles in the TUC (Trades Union Congress).
What is being revealed in the course of the struggles, is the need for further unified and organised and coordinated political action over Rights, in particular Pension Rights.
In fighting for Pensions Rights, we must all FIGHT FOR THE PENSIONS WE WANT and FIGHT FOR THE PENSIONS WE HAVE!
It is the working class which is at the centre of all progressive forces for change.
The ascendancy of the working class has left its imprint to the extent it is fighting for its own interests and its own new coherence. The workers’ movement, in the Proletarian Front, will fight the anti-social offensive and win the battle for a pro-social agenda, driving the whole of humanity forward. There will be issues in the movement, the NHS, being one prominent issue and Pensions may be another, that throws light on the wages system signalling why there must be an end to the system of capitalism.
Whenever there is a particular set of political issues revealed as a front of struggle in the wotkers’ movement, it is usually something that is considered as tactically and strategically significant and is part of the movement towards victory for the aims of humanity.