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Chart of the Day: why public sector workers are striking today
Because they don’t want pensions injustice akin to that in the private sector.
by Chris Marshall on Nov 30, 2011 at 10:25
It is unfair that public sector workers get much better pensions than people in private sector jobs. And, with not enough to go round, public sector workers should have their unaffordable pensions brought further in line with what the rest of us can expect.
That’s the argument shared by many private sector workers.
But, goes the counter-argument, don’t force us into a race to the bottom. This from TUC general secretary Brendan Barber:
'Pensions in the private sector are deeply unfair, and making public sector pensions more like private sector provision has nothing to do with fairness. It is just part of a long campaign by those on the small-state right to cut public services.’
Distribution of wages and pension scheme participation (source: TUC)
As you can see from the chart, produced by the TUC, private sector workers' chances of saving in a pension are much more strongly influenced by their wages than public sector workers.
According to the TUC, the challenge is not to level down the public sector to private sector provision in a race to the bottom, but to give private sector staff better access to proper pensions.
‘Private sector workers have every right to be angry at their poor pension provision, but cutting a nurse’s pension will do nothing to boost the pension of a shop-assistant,’ the TUC's recent paper argues, in an attempt at solidarity between public and private sector workers.
As Citywire's Lorna Bourke argues, the TUC is half right: private sector pensions are a mess and no model to emulate.
But it seems the unions' arguments are about as likely to elicit sympathy from the private sector – who are subsidising public sector pensions – as my local butcher is to get a plum defined benefit pension scheme.
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