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I can imagine my viewpoint will be in the minority here, and I do not have problem with people striking, but why does it always have to be about me…me…me?  Cuts have been made across the board, but nobody has started striking, until it comes to their own personal pensions.  Just seems a little selfish to me, but would love to hear others thoughts on the subject.

Going to chance the displeasure and agree with you, and my mum is a school teacher.  i think strikes are quite selfish it targets innocent people and messes up their lives who have absolutely nothing to do with making these decisions.  And yet i do realise that sometimes it is the only way to get those involved to take notice.  On the other hand, we are all suffering from cuts and why should some people be able to hold the country to ransome just because of what job they do?  i think teaching is a noble profession, but on the other hand, we’ve been affected badly by the cuts over the last year - I can’t go on strike from being a mother cause of being annoyed at it, so why should they?

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I think that cuts to future pensions are up for grabs - there are cuts happening across the board, and there is no reason to expect that because a profession has always had a good pension, it will continue to do so. There is a difference, however, with pensions which have alrady been started. It isn’t fair to change the terms of someone’s pension part way through. You effectively enter into a contract about how much pension you will recieve depending on how much you put in (unless you have some kind of investment pension), and it is grossly unfair to pull the rug out from under people, and tell people who have paid into a pension all their lives that it is suddenly worth less than it was last year.

On a side note, one of the young people I used to work with is striking today *and picketing*! I have a lot of respect for that. Many of the strike action by teachers during my lifetime has not included a picket line - they have just taken it as a nice day off. That’s not striking - it’s taking a jolly. I don’t care whether I agree with the strike action on not - I have a lot of respect for people who actually bother to get out of bed and stand on a picket line in the rain; it shows they actually care about what they are striking about.

Angie

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Couple of points: 
the changes to pensions affect workers approaching retirement - like it or not, fair or not they have been contracted into and have paid their contributions
read the Hutton report regarding this - costs of public sector pensions are going to fall not rise (from 1.9% to 1.4% I think based on what I’ve read, but its complex….)
we pay tax too - we also provide a public service.  note the p*ssed off parents, yes, you do need us if only as a glorified childminding service
why should the public sector be held to account for the inability/failure of the private sector to provide adequate pensions?
the average yearly pension for a female teacher is £7,000, hardly gold plated
private sector tend to have other benefits such as bonuses and private healthcare (and company cars etc….)

....and yes, teachers are affected by cuts too, by pay freezes, by rises in living costs and so on.  we are not immune.  changes were made to our pensions back in 2007 and have been changed further since this time in order to reflect potential costs….

enough!  must dash smile

I have a lot of sympathy.  My brother is a police man, and he’s worked really hard all his life, inititally in the army, served in the Gulf war etc and then afterwards he went into the police force… where he’s worked damn hard and is really good at his job.  His dream for years is to be eventually retire at 55 (6 1/2 years away) and buy a little place in France with his wife.  However, that is now looking unlikely, he is now forced to work more hours for less pay, overtime isn’t paid anymore, he is at the top of his pay scale, and because he was so good at his job, he received bonuses, also in part because his salary will not rise, but that’s all now been taken away, so they are now living on his basic wage and finding it really quite hard.  And if the govt does mess with the pensions, he will be made to work for much longer to recieve a much reduced pension.  That’s just not fair. 

But of course the police are not allowed to strike.  I’d support ‘em though if there were, I think this is disgusting, these people and many others in the public sector providing services for us work for far less than they could get in the private sector.. the least they should be able to look forward to is decent pension..especially when these people have dedicated their lives to a job that is so beneficial to our society.
So, while it is inconvenient when people in the public service sector strike, I will still support them, they have endured years of having their wages frozen, generally not receiving wage rises in line with inflation etc.  So yes, these cuts are hitting everyone these days..but these folks have had it shit for a damn long time.  At the end of the day the work they do is not valued by the govt, they want more and more from their public workers for less and less and frankly, I think that is really crap.

Many folks many a big deal of how the final salary pensions are unfair..but you know what, they are, these people don’t earn vasts amount and it’s all been that the perk to work for public sector was the pension… to take that away is so arse backwards I can’t begin to fathom what the hell this govt is thinking - they are sending us back to the thatcherite years of the 80’s, and I think those people who can strike should… and I would like to see people coming out and supporting them; us all standing together and saying to the govt, “Oye this is not on”. 

So yes, we are all feeling the pinch… so surely we should be standing behind those who have some “power” to affect the govt to make it clear that what they are doing is not “fair” as they keep trying to say they are being.  I agree the strikes are damn inconvenient, and there are times when it peeves me off.. but in this case, I think we do need to stand together and make it clear to this govt that what they are doing is just not right - stop taking from people who don’t have loads to begin with, and instead find another way to make the savings they say are necessary. 

Leave alone the pensions of decent hard working people who have spent their lives providing a service to our society!

Jx

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Ciaran - 30 June 2011 05:03 PM
Aisling - 30 June 2011 02:01 PM

I can imagine my viewpoint will be in the minority here, and I do not have problem with people striking, but why does it always have to be about me…me…me?  Cuts have been made across the board, but nobody has started striking, until it comes to their own personal pensions.  Just seems a little selfish to me, but would love to hear others thoughts on the subject.

I don’t have any strong feelings one way or the other about the strikes, but I am curious about something. You believe the current strikes are an inappropriate form of action. So what alternative form of action do you think would be more appropriate? And why do you think your alternative form of action would have a greater chance of success?

I don’t have any alternative form of action.  I think strikes are appropriate when people are disgruntled, but why do people only seem to feel disgruntled enough to strike when it comes down to money, and how much they will get?  Why not strike about cuts in services they are providing?  Or the amount of funding their service is getting?  I for one get really riled about how in an election you never see social services being singled out for extra funding like you do with education or the health service.  Yet you never see strikes about that.  In my time in social services I would be more fired up about striking over something like that, than how much pension I was going to get in my retirement.

People in the public sector do work hard, but generally, people do not join public sector jobs to make loads of money, they do it for the love of the job.  I agree that it does not mean they should be taken advantage of, but I wish they would broaden their protest to include those that are really vulnerable, and not just about themselves.

human nature I guess, hun. 

I think too the strike mentality has changed, I remember,v aguely the 80’s miner strikes, my mum was a shop steward and she and other nursers when out on the picket lines to support the miners…. sadly we don’t see that kind of solidarity anymore, which is shame

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Angiegw - 30 June 2011 04:05 PM

I think that cuts to future pensions are up for grabs - there are cuts happening across the board, and there is no reason to expect that because a profession has always had a good pension, it will continue to do so. There is a difference, however, with pensions which have alrady been started. It isn’t fair to change the terms of someone’s pension part way through. You effectively enter into a contract about how much pension you will recieve depending on how much you put in (unless you have some kind of investment pension), and it is grossly unfair to pull the rug out from under people, and tell people who have paid into a pension all their lives that it is suddenly worth less than it was last year.


My opinion on the pension part of the strike issue is exactly this. Having worked in the public service for many years, but no longer do, I have a pension that I paid into and at one point actually paid in highly to in order to receive a decent pension at the end of it. I think it’s fine if they want to change it now for new recruits who will know when they sign their contract what the pension system is, but for those who signed contracts many years ago it really isn’t fair. Yes there are cuts everywhere but the majority of public service staff earn quite a low wage compared with private - those at the top will try to tell you differently as will certain parts of the media, and those at the top actually distort the figures greatly too.

I fully support the action to be honest, yes it causes disruption but those at the top don’t want to listen any other way. The action is also not just about money and how much money you get in retirement, it’s to do with working conditions, changing working contracts and cuts to staffing putting extra strain on the public services in the first place. The public only hear it as about money because the govt and certain parts of the media focus on that being what the complaints are about. There have been strikes over other issues, but they appear not to be considered newsworthy - it’s easier to sell the news that civil servants are complaining about money again, as they know that annoys people working in private industry. This one has made the news more because it is teachers, and civil servants in many public services - a combined effort to be heard.

Selfish? I don’t think so, it isn’t just about the money, that’s just the perception that is put out there.

ok, back with a bit more time.

Joxy, a great post you said so much of what I feel but often don’t have the words for.  Thank you.

As for other forms of action?  For teachers we can ‘work to rule’ i.e. only do what we are employed to do, teach.  All other ‘extras’ go out the window, no clubs before or after school, no bands, no choirs, no trips, no sporting fixtures….if there’s no time in the day to mark work, it won’t be marked…exam papers will not be moderated…so basically everything that is considered part of teaching by the wider community will simply cease to exist.  teachers will do what everyone thinks we do already: arrive at 8.30am and leave at 3.30pm on the dot.  If I’m exptected to work in a secondary school until I’m nearly 70, pay more into my pension and get less then I’m going to start pacing myself now.  Parents really do regard us a c*ap and you know what?  we do so so much extra stuff because parents can’t or won’t be bothered doing their job.  Sorry to rant but I love my job, I’ve worked damned hard to get here and I’m not having some government using under hand tactics and media manipulation to turn an already ill informed public against what I do….......

dotsie - 30 June 2011 07:37 PM

ok, back with a bit more time.

Joxy, a great post you said so much of what I feel but often don’t have the words for.  Thank you.

As for other forms of action?  For teachers we can ‘work to rule’ i.e. only do what we are employed to do, teach.  All other ‘extras’ go out the window, no clubs before or after school, no bands, no choirs, no trips, no sporting fixtures….if there’s no time in the day to mark work, it won’t be marked…exam papers will not be moderated…so basically everything that is considered part of teaching by the wider community will simply cease to exist.  teachers will do what everyone thinks we do already: arrive at 8.30am and leave at 3.30pm on the dot.  If I’m exptected to work in a secondary school until I’m nearly 70, pay more into my pension and get less then I’m going to start pacing myself now.  Parents really do regard us a c*ap and you know what?  we do so so much extra stuff because parents can’t or won’t be bothered doing their job.  Sorry to rant but I love my job, I’ve worked damned hard to get here and I’m not having some government using under hand tactics and media manipulation to turn an already ill informed public against what I do….......

Yes, that’s the really sad thing - that people are now resenting the teachers instead of seeing how unfair these changes would be and how little they are paid for what they do already. Doesn’t the average teaching wage work out at pennies when you factor in how many children they are responsible for (and we all want our children to have special attention and not to lose out with so many other children in the class) and how long they work, both in the schools, after hours and at home? It certainly doesn’t compare with those at the top of the pile, those who are earning so much that money just doesn’t seem real anymore - I find it unreal that there are people being paid thousands per week for truly ‘selfish’ jobs, but they aren’t the ones facing cuts and having their working terms altered. I believe the government decided that it would be silly to severely penalise/tax/cut the banking industry because then it would lose its appeal and wouldn’t be able to recruit the best people… I’m sure I’d rather have the best people teaching my children!!

You know, that all makes sense to me now.  I don’t watch the news.  The only reason I knew about the strikes was that the older boys school was closed.  So what does filter down to me is really the edited highlights of an already skewed media reporting. 

Are there any further plans to strike?  I can’t imagine one days strike is going to shift this governments stance.  What else can be done?

The thing is as well is that, to an extent, it will always come down to money. Strikers lose a day’s pay for striking, as well as being marked out as someone who will go out on strike, which isn’t great if you have an anti-union boss. If you are on an already modest salary (which, aside from MPs, pretty much all public sector workers are), losing a day’s pay is a BIG deal. I actually wouldn’t expect teachers, social workers, etc to lose a day’s pay over cuts. Why should they and their families lose out financially because of cuts to their services which affect others? Great if they can afford to lose a day’s pay over their principles but realistically, most can’t. That’s not to say that they do NOTHING about this stuff, or just take it lying down. But realistically, getting a workplace full of parents with small kids,mortgages to pay, etc out on a point of principle isn’t going to happen. In simple terms, public sector workers aren’t raking it in, usually have families to support and can’t afford to strike too often. Striking can also, ironically, affect your pension if you are in, iirc, the final year before retirement, meaning that workers in their last year of work often do go in.

I’d rather see someone spend a day at the beach than cross a picket line. TBH as far as having a day off goes, its unpaid, and most public sector jobs, aside from teaching, do allow you to take a day of unpaid leave if you need it (with appropriate notice etc). Bear in mind too that an awful lot of public sector workers will have kids to take care of that day because the schools are closed. Anyone who isn’t in work that day is supporting the strike.

Joxy, the reason we don’t see the kind of solidarity when one union goes out in support of another (secondary picketing-technical name) is that Thatcher made it illegal. So what the unions have to try to do is to co-ordinate strike action.

I think it is in all of our interests to want public sector work to be well paid with good benefits. I’d much rather my kids were being taught by well paid teachers with enough time to prepare between lessons, who were motivated and resourced and supported to provide extra work. If you look at what this country is spending its money on atm…well I don’t think paying enough money to the people (largely) responsible for educating the next generation of taxpayers should be in the front line of cuts…nor those whose job is to care for our kids and ourselves when sick (nurses). Nor those who come out when our houses are on fire. Maybe a better strategy would be to nationalise the next industry in need of bailout, rather than handing over our money.

Aisling,

I think you were very brave to post your thoughts in the first place - it has given people the opportunity to explain the situation and this is what’s needed.  The general public need to approach these events from a position of knowledge, not ignorance.  The media and hearsay generally have a lot to answer for smile

Im so pleased to find some proper discussion here about the strike action. I have a mix of friends who are either 1. not interested at all as they work in the private sector and their children are at a private school that was not afftected 2. work in the public sector and are concerned about their own financial situation and have been unimpressed with my mixed view.

I agree it is very unfair if you are near retirement and the conditions change. However, I think it is unrealistic for people to be able to retire at the age they always have given that most people will remain healthy for a long time after retirement. Also I think everyone needs to take some cuts and why not one group of people over another?

What drives me mad is things like people avoiding tax by having their finances overseas, the ammout spent on the military, the crazy ammounts floating around in things like advertising and marketing…and how about the millions talked about in football?? I dont really undertand sport finances btu it seems crazy that some of the money cant be diverted…trying to persuade people to buy things they dont need in this climate is frankly not on. I think if some of these things were taking huge hits then others would be less likely to be upset by changes affecting them.

I just find it sad that there seems to be a general culture that the more money you have the happier you will be….in some ways it is true, but I hope in the long term we move towards a society that values community and the environment over personnal wealth and security.

Dd has been asking about stikes and what it all means and I have been trying to explain…wondered if other people are discussing it with their children and what they are saying?

yeah but the average pension for a public sector worker is something like £7000 a year. After 20 years of service.

We are hardly talking about people who are rolling in it.

TBH, when we are talking about living on £7000, I think it is fair to say that cutting that is going to make people pretty unhappy.

Public sector workers are exactly the people who have always valued community over money. That’s why, in general, they will accept lower pay than they’d get in the private sector. They are exactly the sector of society who deserve their pensions to be protected. Because the current message we are getting from the government is: don’t do a job that benefits society (teaching, firefighting, tax collection). We don’t value these jobs enough even to give you security in your old age. Do something completely selfish-be a banker or a lawyer and take care of no 1.

after all, as thatcher said, there is no such thing as society, only people and their families.

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