Reasons behind strike action

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ON May 10 hundreds of thousands of trade union members took part in strike action to protest over the way the government is carrying out a further attack on hard working people.

Those taking part are not the greedy and self-interested that some would like to make out that they are. They are the health service workers and public servants who provide us with services essential to keep our country running smoothly.

This was further emphasised by the fact that they were joined by police officers demonstrating in their time off because they are not allowed to strike. Even prison officers took part.

The main issue is the attack on pensions which mean that teachers, nurses, police and prison officers and fire-fighters will all be working longer, paying more and receiving less pension.

Mistruths are spread about our pensions saying that paying for them constitutes 20 percent of our council tax. It is closer to five percent. Teachers’ pensions are in fact self-financing yet they are already having to pay 50 percent extra and by next year most will be paying double their previous pension contributions.

Of course, public sector workers also pay council tax and national tax and so contribute twice to their own pensions. Most fire-fighters pay 11 percent, the highest in the public sector already, towards their pension and the Government wants to increase this by 2015 to 14.2 percent and officers up to 17 percent.

This on top of wage freezes and an increase in nearly all household goods and fuel is too much.

Some critics have tried to divide the nation over this issue saying that many with private pensions are worse off.

The Unions do not deny this may be the case so their slogan has been “Fair Pensions For All”. They believe all working people should be able to retire on a decent pension.

As for retirement age, do we really expect public servants including police, teachers, prison officers and fire-fighters to be working to an age when they will not be able to cope with the stresses of their jobs?

The government is trying to turn health services, schools and even our police force into profit making businesses. It is in all our interests to defend them and the people who work in them.

MARTIN FIELD

Chair of Wisbech, March and District Trades Union Council