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Fight for a better future
NANCY TAAFFE is a part-time library assistant and member of UNISON. She campaigned in favour of strike action against New Labour's attacks on pensions.
She is also the Socialist Party's general election candidate in Waltham Forest, northeast London.
'NOT A penny off the pay, not a minute on the day'. That was the slogan used by the pioneers of the labour and trade union movement in their fight against the greedy bosses at the turn of the last century. And it accurately explains the attacks on our pensions at the start of the 21st century.
On first hearing about the proposed changes to our pensions, many workers were unclear about precisely how their immediate circumstances would change.
Pension law is a myriad of different schemes, rules and calculations. I have had to try and understand the detail of these laws very quickly in the past few weeks whilst trying to explain to people these proposed changes.
Socialist Party members have explained that pensions are deferred wages and by attacking our pensions the government hope to defer the fight till we are too old and too weak to realise that we have been swindled. These changes are essentially a wage cut and an extension in our working life.
We have argued in the trade unions and more widely that capitalism is an inefficient system that protects the profits of a tiny elite at the top of the system rather than efficiently running society in the interests of the many. These pensions changes show that in an attempt to keep profits in the hands of a few they are prepared to turn the clock back and have the working classes literally working from the cradle to the grave.
The Socialist Party in UNISON and right across the trade union movement has been arguing that we need to build a new workers' party organised around the ideas of socialism to defeat these attacks.
If for instance the profits of HSBC, Shell and other multinationals were ploughed back into the infrastructure of society then we would have more money to spend on pensions and the welfare state in general.
Socialism is the only alternative to this profit driven system - a system which attacks our wages and working conditions and creates war and environmental destruction. Join us and fight for a future worth living.
Vote socialist and build the alternative
I HAVE been doing meetings up and down the country and have probably spoken to more than 6,000 PCS members.
Marion Lloyd, PCS NEC, personal capacity
All of them, without exception, are very angry about the Labour government's threats to cut 120,000 jobs, attack our terms and conditions and now our pensions. And they are keen to stand up united and do something about it.
But they are also asking questions about the general election. At each meeting I've spoken at, without fail, at least one or two members have asked me who they can vote for.
The need for a clear alternative, based on defending the public sector, properly funding public services and allowing us to do our jobs and deliver them is uppermost in members' minds. New Labour, Tories, Liberal Democrats - they're all competing to see who can attack us the most.
In some areas of the country the Socialist Party will be standing candidates in the election, on a platform of investing in public services. I would encourage members to vote socialist in those areas. But don't stop there, join the Socialist Party and help build a campaigning alternative to the main political parties.
Standing for socialism
THE SOCIALIST Party is standing in the following seats in the general election:
Bristol North West
Cardiff South and Penarth
Coventry North East
Newcastle East and Wallsend
Wythenshawe and Sale East
If you would like to help our campaigns in any of these seats, 'phone Hannah on 020 8988 8767
Manifesto for socialism
for the millions, not the millionaires
no cuts! no privatisations!
£1.50 including postage
Available from Socialist Books, PO Box 24697, London, E11 1YD
In The Socialist 19 March 2005: