Dec 16, 2011
Christmas is the time for takingBack
© Reuse this
Some two-million public-sector workers, including teachers, healthcare professionals, university lecturers (including myself) and other civil servants, refused to work as government sought to cut pensions and force workers to work longer. The unions described the strike as the biggest in a generation. Government felt it was futile.
I do not wish to rehash the views of the unions and government, but rather highlight the split in opinion on the strike between public-sector and so-called ordinary private-sector workers such as retailers and workers in companies.
The argument from the private sector was simple: public-sector workers still have pensions, so why are they complaining about cuts and having to work slightly longer to get their, relatively speaking, generous payouts. Private-sector workers generally have no pensions, or their pensions were cut years ago. Currently, the mean average public-sector pension is about £7 000 a year, whereas in the private sector it is £5 000.
But what is mystifying about these arguments is that they somehow imply that what has happened to private-sector workers is right, or that if one sector of society is going to be screwed by big business and the pension companies, then everyone should. Two wrongs do not make a right.
The rich, of course, remain immune to all this. The annual pension of 346 directors from 102 of the UK’s top companies will be £200 000, compared with the average workplace pension of £8 100, a study found recently.
The current pension fight is also the thin edge of the wedge. A recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that, by 2080, the average person will have to work to 74 to get a pension. Further, figures suggest that the public sector may lose 490 000 jobs in the next few years. This will play itself out in the lives of ordinary people.
As the public sector shrinks, for example, waiting times in hospitals and teacher-to-pupil ratios will increase. Despite attempts to portray the public and private sectors as separate, they are also integrally linked. An enormous number of people in the private sector is dependent on the public sector for contracts.
According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the average family in the UK will lose £2 500 in annual household income, compared with three years ago.
So this is not about the public sector versus the private sector – this is about government choosing to support the very rich at the expense of ordinary people.
Bankers, who caused this crisis, continue to steal from taxpayers unashamedly. Directors’ pay rose by 40% last year. A total of £4.2-billion will be paid out in bonuses to bankers this year in the UK.
The Royal Bank of Scotland, now 84%-owned by taxpayers, is still intending next year to pay its top bankers £500-million in bonuses. Last year, the bank made a loss of £1.1-billion and paid out £950-million in bonuses. The top 100 bankers received over £1-million each.
Taxpayers are paying for these bonuses. So when nearly five-million people are told their pensions are going to be cut, including teachers, social workers, soldiers, firefighters and the police, it makes perfect sense they are angry, especially when they have been paying their contributions to pension schemes in good faith.
Now is the time to work together. But instead of the working public uniting to say enough is enough, different sectors of society are hurling abuse at each other. This is akin to having an argument on the deck of the Titanic about who is going to be affected the most when the iceberg hits, while the super-rich row off in the lifeboats.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor
Other Brandon Hamber News
Watching Felix Baumgartner free-fall from space and break the sound barrier was extraordinary. As he climbed out of his little balloon with the curve of the earth below him, I was in awe both at what he had decided to do and the sheer beauty of the earth below.
I am somewhat addicted to Twitter, and marginally hooked on Facebook. I find them useful in following multiple news sources, building a work profile and staying in contact with friends across the globe. That said, I think (and this is what all addicts say,...
I was 17 when I personally first encountered censorship. I produced a school play in the late 1980s which reached the finals of a play festival in Johannesburg.
Updated 43 minutes ago Irish Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Charles Flanagan told media on Thursday that Ireland was well positioned to play a greater role in Africa, particularly in the aviation, pharmaceuticals and agricultural industries. Flanagan was this week leading a high-level...
Updated 45 minutes ago The Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) has appointed three consultants for work packages as part of Phase 2 of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP). The contracts, worth a collective M40-million, were awarded to the SMEC-FMA joint venture (JV);...
Updated 52 minutes ago JSE-listed Huge Telecom continued to grow its distribution capabilities during the year ended February 28, with the number of business partners increasing by 136, or 47%. Huge Telecom’s connectivity services, which were distributed mainly to small and medium...
Recent Research Reports
Steel 2015: A review of South Africa's steel sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Steel 2015 report provides an overview of the key developments in the global steel industry and particularly of South Africa’s steel sector over the past year, including details of production and consumption, as well as the country's primary carbon...
Projects in Progress 2015 - First Edition (PDF Report)
In fact, this edition of Creamer Media’s Projects in Progress 2015 supplement tracks developments taking place under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, which has had four bidding rounds. It appears to remain a shining light on the...
Electricity 2015: A review of South Africa's electricity sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Electricity 2015 report provides an overview of State-owned power utility Eskom and independent power producers, as well as electricity planning, transmission, distribution and the theft thereof, besides other issues.
Construction 2015: A review of South Africa’s construction sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2015 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; the key participants in the sector; local construction demand; geographic diversification;...
Liquid Fuels 2014 - A review of South Africa's Liquid Fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2014 Report examines these issues, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing, competition in the sector, the...
Water 2014: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2014 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
This Week's Magazine
While economic forecasts for the African continent are most favourable, African airlines may not be able to benefit from the expected growth in the region’s gross domestic product (GDP), International Air Transport Association VP: Africa Raphael Kuuchi has warned....
The Automotive Production and Development Programme (APDP) will need to change substantially post 2020, says Metair Investments South African operations COO Ken Lello. “We must not make tweaks. We have to change. What we are doing is not sustainable.”
Banking group Absa’s forecast is for the rand to end the year at around R13 against the dollar, weakening further to R13.50 by 2016, says Absa sectoral analyst Jacques du Toit. He warns that possible interest rate hikes in the US may see capital being pulled from...
The Dispute Resolution Centre at the Bargaining Council for the Civil Engineering Industry (BCCEI) is now open to handle party-to-party disputes. The BCCEI represents the interests of all level four to nine Construction Industry Development Board companies.
Communications technology firm Ericsson sub-Saharan Africa head Fredrik Jejdling says the company’s commitment to sustainability and corporate responsibility has been integrated into all facets of its operations, which has provided it with sustainable revenue...
Next ArticleDoes size matter?