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Weds 30th Strike

From Emma S

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Does anyone know if there is going to be a 'presence' or anything on the street in Hebden anywhere for the strike on Weds? I assume that various public services - library? schools? will have workers who are on strike. Just wondering if there will be any kind of demonstration anywhere.
I'll be on strike and would take the opportunity to join up with local strikers if possible on Weds.

This is why I am striking, if anyone wants to know

From David Telford

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

They've been leafletting outside the station a few times when I've gone past but I imagine the most militant will be on demonstrations elsewhere.

I think any demonstration would attract hostility. THe private sector tends to resent people in the public sector having better conditions, better pay, better pensions and almost rock solid job security. The public sector needs to be more flexible and realistic.

From Chris Barnett

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Oh dear, have I really got to cross swords with David Telford again . . .

As a public sector worker facing a high possibility of redundancy / early retirement, and knowing a lot of friends and colleagues who have already lost their jobs or are likely to soon, I wish people would stop making this assumption that public sector workers have 'almost rock solid job security'. It isn't true.


From Tom Standfield

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

David Telford writes "I think any demonstration would attract hostility." According to this BBC poll, over three out of five people support the strike. And in a poll reported in today's Independent asked whether the Government should slow the pace of the cuts so that it can try to boost growth, 69 per cent agree. Come on David, stay at home tomorrow. Support the strike!

From David Telford

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Tom, I understood the action tomorrow is not about cuts.

That said, we need to spend effectively, public spending does not create economic growth per se. If that were true, the north east of England would be booming, it clearly is not. If 69% of Independent readers think otherwise, that says a lot about their readership because the cuts must be made.

The rock solid job security I referred to was up to 2009. The last governement employed an additional 800,000 employees in the public sector which isan expensive & unsustainable way of trying to reduce unemployment.

As were seeing jobs going in hte public sector, the question is, why were those jobs created in hte first place?

THe issue tomorrow is pensions, I think the answer is to move pensions out of politics. Privatise them (even if this means the unions run them). At the moment, the state bails out the pub sec pensions, they are not sustainable.

From Ian M

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

I agree with David Telford 100%.

It will be interesting to note how many teachers, health sector workers etc are actually stood on the picket line tomorrow. I suspect most will be tucked up at home in the warmth, bemoaning how badly they are done by.

Tom, curiously following a poll taken from my immediate circle of private sector friends and work colleagues (approx 50 people) 100% are utterly against the strike and think you should all go back to work.

Oh and if anyone wants to know, this is why I am opposed to the strike.

From Emma S

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

So many myths popularised in the press re public service pensions.

Quick myth-busting guide

Please note the horribly low pensions for women!

Anyway, we all have our own perspectives. I just wanted to see, with this thread, if there was anything happening around Hebden on the 30th.

From David Telford

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

I'm afraid Emma, I think I'll take the balanced report in the Telegraph than a reather one-sided Unison propaganda page.

From Cllr Tim Swift

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Not everyone would agree with Dave Telford that the Daily Telegraph article was 'objective'. I find it quite difficult to see something as dispassionate when it quotes the Tax Payers Alliance within a few lines of the start, and uses value-laden terms such as 'gold plated'.

Many in the public sector feel demonised and repeatedly targeted by the current Government. And it seems that even when they are more 'realistic and flexible', they get no credit for it - witness David Telford in his first post repeating a myth about 'rock solid job security' which he then acknowledges is two years out of date. Similarly the failure to acknowledge that public sector unions had already renegotiated pensions in 2008, and their main objection to what is happening now is that the Government have unilaterally imposed a 3% hike in contribution fees without any discussion - and this money is not going to fund their pensions, it's going into the general exchequer pot.

From David Telford

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

You are quite right, pensions were renegotiated but it was a pointless process. THe govt of the time were always weak with the unions and failed to do a good deal for the taxpayer.

On the face of it, many public sector shemes are Ponzi schemes.

The pensions only work if:

Everyone promises to die within 3 years of their 60th / 65th birthday.

There continues to be recruitment into the various schemes at Gordon Brown spending rates.

The rest of us are taxed more to pay for it, therefore reducing our ability to contribute to our own pensions.

Or, cough . . . maybe those who are going to benefit from the schemes contribute a bit more and work a few more years.

From Allen Keep

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

David Telford has already given us an insight into his perception of objectivity on this forum by his absurd suggestion that men may be greater victims of domestic violence than women - no doubt the Telegraph would approve.

Teacher's pensions as a proportion of GDP are, according to the Government's own report, falling and will continue to fall. The local Government Pension Scheme is in surplus not defecit.

Teacher unions agreed in 2007 to adjust (increase) employeee contributions to maintain the affordability of the scheme in the light of changing economic and demographic circumstances and ongoing evaluation and negotiation to ensure pensions reamined affordable for public finance.

The Government has not produced further evaluation in order to reach a new settlement but has imposed, without any meaningful negotiation, not only a 50% increase in contributions but changes that will significantly increase the working life of millions and afford vastly reduced benefits when they are finally able to stiop work.

The reason? This Governement has a simple agenda - force ordinary workers in the public sector, many of whom are the lowest paid in our society to pay for an economic crisis which the most priviliged in society created. Take on their organisations and defeat them - and lay the ground to throw social care and provision for our children the sick and elderly to the mercy of the market.

I suspect the Telegraph and the class it reperesents can hardly contain its joy at the prospect.

I, for one, have never felt more justified and proud of taking action today and applaud every single person who did the same.

From Joel B

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

3 of my customers today were teachers who had booked with myself a couple of weeks ago knowing they were off today, sorry on strike today. That's not striking, its having a day off to have some jobs completed around their home.

From Graham Barker

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

I hate to say it but I think David Telford is right on this one, especially with his comparison to Ponzi schemes. Without a healthy, wealth-creating private sector there can be no public sector, let alone public sector pensions, and at the moment the private sector is far from healthy. I wonder how many public sector employees would swap their pension for that of an equivalent private sector worker? Not many, I bet. The unions can huff and puff all they like, but the current system isn't sustainable so it has to change.

From Paul Clarke

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

I think many public sector workers will feel targeted by those carrying out the government's agenda locally in the name of so called 'caring cuts.'

From David Telford

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Thanks for that Allen, I do think you should re-visit my post on domestic violence before jumping to conclusions. If it's a lack of objectivity to consider all violence within the family or within relationships as destructive then I'm pretty comfortable in my world that lacks objectivity if it doesn't require me to be a serf to prejudice.

As mentioned already, the change in 2007 for Teacher's pensions was not enough. You just have to do the maths; a teacher who pays into the scheme at 7% (ish) for 30 years comes away from the scheme with a lump sum of around 120% of annual salary and a pension of 50% of the salary. Within 3 years, all his contribution has been used up. The teachers' pension is not currently in deficit but this is not because the scheme is sustainable, it's because recruitment has meant there are more teachers than ever before. The scheme can only work under the current formula if you continually increase the number of contributors / all retirees promise to die within 4 years. It's a classic Ponzi scheme and most of the public sector pension schemes suffer from this. The economy is not going to have a continually growing public sector, even if we (heaven forbid) have another Labour government, the economy has to get back into balance where there are more wealth creators than takers. There isn't an ideology here, it's just economics.

Those who took action did so out of selfishness and nobody should be fooled by the union's well rehearsed bleats, it's not justified and in my opinion shameful.

From Andy M

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Joel B - do you not count losing a days pay as a valid strike consequence?

One thing the Government is counting on (and exploiting of course) are divisive arguments around the image of the public sector. They're more than happy to encourage the bucolic view of wall to wall 'inflated' pensions, cushy numbers and job security to provoke a reaction from the private sector..and their supporters. Hopefully however, the PM's scoffing remarks and the aggressive and mendacious stuff coming from Osborne recently might have the opposite affect.


From Cllr James Baker

Thursday, 1 December 2011

I have to say I agree with almost all of what David has been saying on this post. Everyone has a right to defend their own pension, but the Unions painting this as some kind of moral crusade doesn't stack up. The real people who need help with their pensions are lowly paid people in the private sector. I see nobody standing up for these people.

When Gordon Brown abolished dividend tax credit it had a massive impact on on many private pension schemes. It was a major factor in many of the final salary schemes closing. I can't remember the great rallying call of the Unions then.

Fair Pensions for All which is the banner for the strikes, but if you want to talk about fairness then my argument is you need to focus on poorly paid private sector workers who not only earn less then their public sector equivalents (according to the IFS) but have nothing like the type of pensions they enjoy.

The coalition has done just this by restoring the pensions earning link, meaning that from April 2012, the basic state pension will rise by £5.30 per week. This is in stark contrast to the last Labour government's miserly 75p increase.

I would love the economy to be strong enough to give everyone a fantastic pension. Sadly it isn't. Prolific spending by nation states across europe and the resulting euro-crisis is in danger of tipping the global economy down the pan. We have to get public spending under control in order to keep on being able to borrow at some of the lowest rates in Europe. The alternative is Greece, Spain or Italy.

From Allen Keep

Thursday, 1 December 2011

After my wife spent the morning on her picket line and we both attended a rally in Halifax we rather selfishly did a spot of xmas shopping. Hoards of unexpected customers kept the tills of Britain's flagging retailers ringing with money they hadn't earned that day rather than use the internet in the evening. Surprisingly, no one wanted to turn the increased trade away. Perhaps the offended Joel should have done?

David argues that the 2007 agreement wasn't enough - but still agrees that the pension scheme is sustainable! Something must be wrong?! Perhaps David is disappointed that a softie Labour government missed a chance to stick the boot into working people and their services. Don't worry David - the steel toe caps are well and truly on.

By the way the National Audit Office (good at maths) confirms that the cost of public sector pensions will fall and, again, Hutton's report does not just refer to current sustainibility - but this being maintained until 2060! Strangely, David seems to miss the point that if the Governement differs from its own auditors and its own report they are at liberty to re-evaluate the pensions scheme (in fact they are required to by law) and renegotiate the settlement with the unions - who have agreed to do so.
I wonder why they won't? I also wonder why they have already, without any negotiation whatsoever, changed the indexation criteria for teacher's pensions which will affect all pensions - even those apparently offered protection.

James - I believe you are a civil liberties campaigner. Care to comment?
I'm glad James you would like the country to be able to afford fantastic pensions - perhaps if we made the rich pay their taxes and recouped the money they evade or stopped spending so much on things we don't need and have no social value - weapons for instance -we could do. And for all of us - public or private workers (by the way James who was reponsible for stripping pensions away from workers in the private sector - nurses? teachers?)

In the meantime, most of us want to simply maintain what we have already earned and signed up for - no one is asking for a penny more - and be able to look forward to some dignity and security in our old age.
Selfish I know - and to stand up and defend ourselves against this political attack - which has nothing to do with economics is obviously shameful.

James, you belive in standing up for your rights don't you? - or do you agree with David on this too?

From David Telford

Friday, 2 December 2011

Allen, I think You've misread my post. I do not think the pension is sustainable; the 2007 negotiation was simply putting off the problem. What I say is the fund is not in deficit right now. The reason being that there are more contributors than retirees. However, this is not sustainable because this balance of contributors will not continue.

I'd hate to sound condescending (that means talking down to people BTW) but I'll give an example. You take a teacher who joined before 2007, they get paid £24,000 p.a. and they join at 30 years old. They retire at 60 and have contributed 7% every year and the fund has £52,080 available. They take their lump sum of let's say 108 ?% £26,040 leaving £26,040 to keep them going. Their 50% pension get's paid for 2 years and then they die which is great, the scheme works well. If they live a bit longer, then either the teachers who joined afterwards need to contribute a bit more, the teacher himself needs to work a bit longer or the government takes on more teachers to contribute at the same rate to pay the retiree. The last option is what the last govt took, it's an expensive way of doing it [for the state] and as you can hopefully see, it stores up a big problem in the future. That is why I refer to the pensions as giant ponzi schemes.

The private sector pensions were raided by the Scottish Prime minister which helped pay for nurses, teachers, cycling promotional officers, nuclear free secretariats and other posts in the public sector (800,000 more in fact) to make the unemployment figures looked good. This was affordable according to the TSM because of new sustained growth (what he really meant, it was affordable because the banks were making a fortune out of ponzi style lending schemes that led to lots of lending, business thrives and the Labour government spent, we know what happened after that.)

If you are selfish, you can stick your heals in and keep to what you have already 'earned' and signed up for and live it up into your old age. It will obviously need to be paid for by larger taxes and VAT. It will also lead to even less pension provision in the private sector. The public sector will become more and more attractive to bright young things and there will be a brain drain from the private sector. This is a bad thing as the private (productive)sector gives the economy it's edge and ultimately pays for the public sector. This is why, in the past, the public sector was really a haven for those who hadn't done so well at school / university or not quite as ambitious. We are already seeing the highest applicants to PGCE courses ever which is a really worrying time when perhaps we are losing a generation of brains and go-getters.

From Cllr James Baker

Friday, 2 December 2011

Hi Allen, yes I am a civil liberties campaigner that is what got me into the murky world we call politics. I'm also a holder of a Local Government pension myself from a number of years working as an administrator. So I will be affected by the measures myself.

The Hutton report predicts public pensions will fall as a percentage of GDP. This is based on certain assumptions about the economy growing that in light of the over spending and insolvency of several major European countries and the euro-crisis this seems unlikely. If GDP is less the percentage spent on a fixed pensions spend increases.

You are right about the choices the nation makes about spending. Even with the need to reduce budgets there are still choices. As a society we choose to erect CCTV to watch each other, and build two new aircraft carriers to exert our military strength overseas.

If the Unions were saying scrap the surveillance industry to support our pensions I would probably be on the picket line! Truth is that a large chunk of public sector unions members are employed doing these things I consider wasteful or unessential. Along with the teachers and nurses there are CCTV operatives, border guards, enforcement officers, diversity co-ordaintors, regional reputation managers, energy officers, customer insight and performance managers etc...

I'm all for simplifying the tax code to reduce the ability to create loop holes and avoid tax. If you simplified and reduced the level of tax on business you would increase your overall taxation revenue.

However to suggest that you can simply plug a public spending deficit by raiding the private sector without any economic consequences to the productivity of the nation and the flow of capital is unrealistic. That money the private sector and banks is not just sitting in a rich man's account in cash. It is invested in the bricks and mortar of the factories and shops that employ people and in turn generate taxation revenue through the production of commodities, and provision of services.

I have no problem with people standing up to protect their own interests. I think my own mother was on strike. That's fine it's her pension she is entitled to try and defend it. Freedom to take industrial action and protest is essential in a free society. That doesn't mean I agree with it though.

No it was not teachers or nurses individually that caused problems in private pensions. However they were paid by Gordon Brown's raid on private pensions. In 1997 Labour scrapped the dividend tax credit. The brought Labour in an extra 5Bn a year in revenue (which it spent on public sector) and reduced the value of private sector retirement funds by £100Bn. This raid on private pensions schemes was then exacerbated by the collapse in the stock market and the impact this had on pension funds.

My argument is essentially that in terms of fairness the Government's priority should be to increase the universal state pension. I can't see how we can ring fence the pensions of public sector workers and expect workers in the private sector to take all the pain.

From Jonathan Timbers

Friday, 2 December 2011

David never ceases to amuse me

''ll take the balanced report in the Telegraph rather than a one-sided Unison propaganda page."

That's like me quoting Socialist Worker in defence of what I believe in. Actually, the Evening Standard (generally Conservative) carried a balanced article with the argument for leaving pension schemes alone.

The problem with his arguments (and James's) is that they are based on a number of economic misunderstandings. We've had this out on another thread, but a couple stand out:

  1. The public sector does not generate useful economic activity. Wrong. If that was the case, why are private companies lining up to take over public sector services... because they can make money out of them (like Winterbourne Care Homes)! Doh!
  2. Teachers pension scheme pays out what it collects from members in a couple of years. Wrong! Sorry, this is a double doh! Pension schemes invest money and pay out the takings. That's why the Chancellor has begged them to invest £30 bn in the UK economy. Why? Because they have heaps of money that we need!
  3. There is a public sector deficit which cannot be filled without making cuts. Actually, there are credible figures from the Tax Justice network, which no authority as far as I can see, has effectively challenged which shows that misuse of tax avoidance schemes alone deprives schools, hospitals, public libraries and adult and social care of £25 billion. If you add that to tax evasion and unpaid tax, the figure more or less covers the deficit. I'm quite happy (unlike David) to question my assumptions, but as yet I have seen no effective rebuttal of these figures though I have looked far and wide (including the Institute for Fiscal Studies)
  4. That a strong public sector crowds out the private sector. Nope, the source of the crisis is the private sector, which actually hasn't grown in any meaningful way in decades because it has relied on financial scamming to boost profits.

It's been some years since I called myself a Marxist (in fact, I struggle with socialist sometimes these days), but Lenin, in his splenetic way, did have a phrase which still rings true of these two: 'useful idiots'.

And by the way, Mick, I'm totally with you about councillors who don't really question the figures they're given and just act as the tools of officers. It's the same with Conservative, Lib Dem, and to a lesser extent Labour MPs who are all too often tools of finance capital, unable to think outside of the box.

From Cllr James Baker

Friday, 2 December 2011

Jonathan I think we have debated some of these issues before on another thread, but just to come back on point 2. If you take £25Bn out of the private sector then that covers some of the deficit for one year. What do you do the next year? If you take take £25Bn a year every year out of the private sector what do you think the consequences would be? Do you not think it might lead to some big firms laying people off or not being able to invest in economic activity?

From Gideon Foster

Friday, 2 December 2011

Jonathan, sorry, but the teachers pension scheme is an unfunded scheme as such it is paid out of general taxation rather than an underlying investment fund , therefore David is right in his comparison with a giant Ponzi scheme as it relies on contributors in order to pay out benefits for members , hence the complete lack of risk for its members guaranteed by the taxpayer !

From Mick Coughlan

Friday, 2 December 2011

If I engage the services of a joiner to do 3 days work for the sum of £1000.00 starting Monday with the job paid for on the completion of work, then on Tuesday afternoon add 2 more days work.Then on Friday he comes to be paid and I say he will have to wait a couple of months and I am only giving him £800 because I'm a bit skint - will he be happy?

Will I still be standing?

From David Telford

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Mick, if you take on a joiner and were paying him by the day, having had a joiner before who took just 3 days, you may want to renegotiate when it's clear that he's going to take another 30 yrs.

Jonathan, I think the others have answered your points.

I think in general, we need to ask ourselves, if you could make everybody poor just so you could be rich, would you do it?

From John Greenwood

Saturday, 3 December 2011

I have no problem with dinner ladies/ binmen (or should that be binpersons) taking action to protect thier pensions, but for most teachers it was just another jolly day off to add to all thier holidays, a sign in the staff room in the school that I work in now says it all, two good reasons for being a teacher July and August.

Training days in some schools comprise of singing lessons and walking to Studley Pike (this is how you say it if you are proper local not stooooodly). How many jobs did wednesdays strike save?. While people lost a day's pay how much did union leaders lose or give up out of thier hundred thousand pounds a year?

From Graham Barker

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Everyone can cherry-pick opinion pieces to their hearts' content but I suggest that all sides study the Hutton Report itself and Danny Alexander's very detailed speech of 17 June, which is probably the best available layman's guide to the government's (and many other people's) position. It's 4000 words but an easy read - for all but trade unionists perhaps - and well worth the trouble.

Neither Hutton nor Alexander has it in for the public sector. What they do make clear though is that as far as future public sector pensions are concerned, it isn't a matter of who deserves what but of who pays for what.

From David Telford

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Mick, to use your analogy, how about you agreed to pay for some work by the day priced on the expectation of finishing within 3 days. Some 30 days later, he's still taking a daily fee off you, at what point do you take him to one side and suggest that maybe we need to change the terms?
Jonathan Timbers.

Your points have been adequately addressed but I'll just add a bit more:

1. As James has said, there is a danger of going off topic here. I am not against the public sector, where there is market failure, the state needs to step in to at least fill-in where the market does not give good out-comes (your example of elderly care) or takes on complete responsibility for supply (street-lighting is always a good example). In some areas, the Public sector offers good value for money (providing the framework for law and the upholding of law, MOD, nuclear defence etc). Usually, by definition, the productive element of society which adds value and profit is always private. For that reason, the brightest, most ambitious people have tended to work in the private sector.

2. Teachers pension scheme ? I think you've already been corrected.

3. Don't rely on figures from the Tax Justice network, Richard Murphy is the lad involved and he's not exactly credible. His contribution to the red book are extremely na?ve and the basis of his thoughts are great in principle but na?ve going on economically suicidal.

4. There is a danger of going around in circles with your points but you need to read a fairly basic A' level economics text book and look at Hicks' work and basic IS ? LM curves.