Today I worked very hard, starting at 6.15am and not finishing until it was late. It was cold and it was windy. I wasn't paid for this work. I stood up and let people know that I think the deal offered by this government to make me work longer, pay more and take home less of a pension was not something I consider to be a good deal. In the proposals I miss out in every single way. I earn 'slightly' too much to avoid any protection, I am slightly too young to benefit from the protected last ten years. I still get to be 'taxed' 3% on my pension, which is a lot of money. If I thought the extra money being collected from ME was going to my pension it wouldn't be so bad, but its not. The treasury are simply going to take my money and pay off the national deficit!!
So thinking it through what should I do?? Well lots of people think that they should leave the scheme and freeze their pension. The government are obviously worried about that as they are making opting out hard. They propose that opting out once is not enough, you have to opt out several times a year, or they'll automatically opt you back in. Once that payment is made accidentally or not, you have lost it.
If I freeze my pension and actually get to a pensionable age, if there is not enough pension to live on what will I do?? Well its simple, I will end up on benefits, whatever is around at that time such as the present day pension credits. The effect will cost the government of the day a fortune.
So is the pension such a luxury and a drain on finances?? It is self sustaining and if there was nothing paid in for the next 20 years it could still pay off all its liabilities. Is my pension a free bonus for me?? No it isn't I currently pay 6.8% of my wages into the pot. I get somewhat tired of the 'private' sector moaning that if they can't have it then we shouldn't. More often than not the people in the private sector are earning more than we are so can make their own arrangements to pay into a private scheme. We shouldn't be racing to the bottom, we should be looking at ensuring good pensions for all.
So if we all pull out of the scheme where will it leave the country??? The pension fund is invested in British industry and infrastructure, its invested in the stock market. Could the loss of investment in those things plunge us all into a Greece style crisis? I think there is something to worry about there.
So after a spell on the picket line we all headed for Hertford and took part in a fantastic Rally. It was well organised and very well attended with people from all sorts of jobs.
NHS, Radiographers, Police Staff, Teachers, Council workers, Head teachers. Lots of different unions all marching together and making a lot of noise. Beth was off school as her own teachers were on strike so she joined in as well.
Beth made a great banner and it attracted the eye of the press, so it was Beth who ended up on BBC news and on the Welwyn Times Web site. I was on the local radio throughout the day at various news times.
We were well supported throughout the day and received boxes of chocolates and money for the strike fund. I suspect we may have to do it all again some time soon.