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From The Socialist newspaper, 21 July 2009

In brief

Scheme closures

COMPUTER GIANT IBM is the latest company to end its final salary pension scheme for its 5,000 members, having already closed it to new members. IBM follows recent similar closures by Morrisons, Barclays and BP.

25,000 Unite members in Barclays are balloting for strike action over the bank's plan to axe its pension scheme.

Ending such schemes saves companies around 20% of payroll costs.

A PricewaterhouseCoopers survey last month found that 72% of companies were considering ending their final salary schemes. This closure trend means that, along with an inadequate state pension, younger workers face having to work longer to try to avoid an impoverished retirement.

Pensions holidays

IN THE 1990s with the stock market booming, many companies stopped paying in contributions to occupational pension schemes. According to the Inland Revenue, employers saved almost 18 billion during this period, even though workers continued to make contributions.

Companies also looted pension fund surpluses to boost profits. Unilever, for example, stripped out 1.2 billion. Some 726 million of this was handed over to shareholders as dividend payments.

Companies' 'pensions holidays' meant that when stock markets plunged, a huge 'black hole' was left in pension funds. At the start of 2009, 7,800 pension schemes had a total 100 billion black hole.

State poverty

THE STATE pension age is 65 for men and 60 for women. The state pension age for women will increase gradually from 2010, so that by 2020 it will be 65. The state pension age for both men and women is to increase from 65 to 68 between 2024 and 2046.

The current full pension is only 95.25 a week. A married woman's pension is a paltry 57.05.

2.5 million pensioners live below the poverty line, ie have a household income of less than 226 a week.

An MP with 20 years' service can expect to receive around 30,000 a year in today's prices after they retire.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
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In The Socialist 21 July 2009:

Corus... Vestas... Defend every job!


No Job Cuts

Vestas: Support the occupation

Vestas jobs fightback

Action to save steel jobs at Corus


Unison witchhunt

Defend the Four: Protest at the Unison witch-hunt

Unison witch-hunt verdict causes outrage amongst trade unionists


Youth fight for jobs

Youth fight for jobs fortnight of action


Workplace news

National strike action to halt attacks on workers and our postal services

Tube workers' action wins concessions

South Yorkshire First Buses strike over pay

London Met Uni strike

Every little helps Tesco's as they attack workers

Teachers strike against job cuts

Care homes public meeting


Pensions

Union action to fight the attacks on our pensions

Pensions - in brief

Pensions: We say


Anti-racism

BNP get police to arrest socialists

Lincoln fights back against racist BNP

Stop the BNP's 'festival' of hate

Rock Against Racism


Socialist Party campaigns

Keep Deptford Jobcentre open!

Build the Tamil Solidarity campaign

Devon residents against incinerators: Alternative waste schemes needed

Another stepping stone towards health privatisation


Marxist analysis: history

20th anniversary of Soviet miners' strike


Comment

40th anniversary of the moon landing What steps has humanity taken?


 

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Related links:

Closures:

triangleFurther protests in Ireland against Debenhams closures - UK fightback needed

triangleCoronavirus and school closures: what needs to be done now

trianglePCS union election: For a fighting democratic general secretary

triangleFight the closures save every job!

triangleHealth bosses move goalposts on A&E waiting times: more funds for our NHS now!

Pensions:

triangleTory think tank proposes attack on pensions

triangleUniversity workers' strike escalates

triangleUniversity strikers walk out for better pay and pensions

triangle14 more days of university strikes over pensions, pay and conditions

State:

triangleReaders' opinion

triangleWest London Socialist Party: The role of the state and police

triangleChinese state's imposition of draconian law reignites Hong Kong protests

Pension:

triangleFrench workers demonstrating in Paris on 16 January; Over 40 days of strike action have taken place against the government's attack on pensions. Photo James Ivens

triangleFrance: Battle over pension rights continues

Women:

triangle20 days. One town. Four domestic violence murders.

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