Battle lines drawn over public sector walk-out on pensions

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From: John Dawson, Gainsborough Court, Skipton.

YOU included an article (Yorkshire Post, November 28) by Unite regional secretary Karen Reay in which she claimed to set out “pension facts”, leading to yesterday’s strike.

Not surprisingly from a public sector trade union leader, she ignored two or three key facts.

First, public sector workers now earn on average about £3,000 per annum more than private sector workers.

Second, these public sector workers also have the benefit of far more generous pensions than their private sector colleagues.

Third, these pensions are now unaffordable for the taxpayers of this country and indeed they have been for some time, with or without the current financial crisis facing us.

The last Labour Government chickened out of taking the necessary action and, of course, helped create the financial crisis.

With workers now living longer than ever, costing pension schemes more and more, it is only fair and reasonable that public sector workers retire later, especially bearing in mind they currently retire earlier on full pension than other workers.

It is also only right that they contribute more to reduce the increasing burden on the taxpayer and move away from a final salary basis.

There was no excuse for the strike action planned when even the proposed changes by the Government will leave the public sector with very generous schemes that probably remain too expensive to be fair to taxpayers, and especially to private sector workers.

From: Richard Martin, ATL branch secretary, Leeds.

DECIDING to strike yesterday was one of the hardest decisions that members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) have had to make.

We are not a militant union and this is the first issue on which we have held a national strike in 127 years.

We don’t want to disrupt our students’ education, but if the government doesn’t treat us fairly children’s education will suffer for decades to come.

Older staff will retire early, schools will find it even harder to recruit heads, young teachers with families won’t be able to afford to stay in the pension scheme, and the best graduates will choose other careers.

We are not asking for special favours. At £10,000 a year, the average teacher’s pension is nowhere near the £25,000 the Government has suggested.

We know only too well that the economy is in a mess. We are in a two-year pay freeze and thousands of education staff are losing their jobs.

The Government has already cut the value of our pensions by an average of 15 per cent over our retirement by changing the yearly pension rise from RPI to CPI. If it cuts our pensions further we will need state benefits to make ends meet when we retire.

Despite nine months of asking the Government has only just started to negotiate. It appears the Government sees education staff, and other public sector workers, as easier targets than the City and financial sector to tap to reduce government debt.

It’s not fair, it’s not right and, unless we stand up to government bullying now, young people will suffer.

From: David W Wright, Uppleby, Easingwold.

OUR trade union leaders yesterday displayed their hypocritical humbug and blatant anti-government policies and actions which must surely put the UK alongside Greece, Syria, Libya, Egypt with anarchy reigning to put us firmly into Third World status.

Who’s running this country?

Hopefully the strikers and fellow unionists will now come to their senses and realise that strikes and disputes will simply alienate the general public and stiffen the resolve of David Cameron and Nick Clegg to get the UK solvent and back on course for full recovery.