The Three Stooges
So finally, Labour have come out and given an opinion on the public sector pension dispute and surprise, surprise, they are sitting on the fence. They are correct in stating that the LibCons have set a trap in terms of encouraging industrial action, but the trap was set as much for Labour as it was the trade unions. There was absolutely no way that Red Ed Miliband was going to be seen on a picket line during the current economic circumstances, as the New Labour focus groups will have been screaming at him not to do it.
So, where does that leave the unions and what will be their reaction to Labour's response? To an extent all three British parties are correct in encouraging negotiation rather than strike action but of course at the same time, the LibCons have also been goading the unions into strike action, hoping to trap both them and the Labour party. So far, all the unions who have voted for strike action are non-affiliated and so have no financial tie to Labour. However, the vast majority of their leadership are Labour members and will quietly be furious that their party has once again, stepped away from supporting them.
What surprises me is that anyone is remotely surprised that Labour are ducking the issue. After all, they were planning to do exactly the same thing with public sector pensions and even the man advising the LibCons is a former Labour Minister. As someone who works in Local Government and pays into a public sector pension, I am prepared to accept that there will have to be some changes, but we have already accepted changes in the last few years and what is being proposed, is well beyond what is required to 'balance the books'.
I have said before and repeat the accusation now, that this has nothing to do with sustaining the public sector pension system, but all about managing the collapse of it. For all these drastic changes will do, is to discourage new membership of the pension schemes and encourage people to leave. It does not matter if the revised schemes are still better than what is on offer in the private sector, as many workers are very sceptical about the whole pension system anyway, after the banking collapse.
So in conclusion, all three British parties are standing as one in what they want from the pension changes, with two trying to goad unions into action and the other sitting well and truly on the fence. There is no sign of any sensible compromises as all three British parties have allowed for savage public sector pension cuts in their figures to 'save the economy'. In other words, they want some of the poorest paid workers in the UK to sacrifice some of their 'deferred pay' to save the bankers' blushes.
On a point of information, did you know that British MPs have one of the best pension schemes in Europe? Please feel free to curse.