Public service workers will have heard Treasury Minister Danny Alexander publicly outlining plans for their pensions.
Telling the world workers must pay more, work longer and get less, while in the middle of talks, shows utter contempt.
They are being battered on all fronts. A pay freeze, hundreds of thousands of jobs going and now an attack on the pensions they saved for.
Charges of “feather-bedding” and “gold-plated” pensions are flung about like confetti, coupled with dodgy statistics to whip up hatred and envy. It’s a typical establishment trick to divide and rule. But the average pension for a woman in local government is just £60 a week, and in health, it’s £85. Not gold-plated, but a cushion against poverty in retirement. They pay between 5.5% and 7.5% of their salary for that benefit. The Government wants them to pay 50% more for 50% less.
But the extra money raised won’t go into the pension scheme. It will go to the Treasury to pay off the deficit – a pensions tax in other words.
The public doesn’t buy into the Government’s view. After all, most households are a mix of public and private sector workers. It would be better if they all had a decent pension, instead of this race to the bottom.
Why should public sector staff lie down and be trampled on? They didn’t cause the recession. They work hard to help people through it and the last thing my members want is action that hurts people they care for.
But what choice do they have?
There is still time for the Government to enter into honest negotiations but the clock’s ticking.