Occupational Hazard

Issue section: 
(271)

The article 'From final salary to final straw' (January SR) needs some additions, mainly because it does not examine the fundamental flaws of privatised pensions adequately--particularly final salary occupational pensions.

As the article says, pensions have led to mass mobilisations in France and other continental countries. This is because their trade union leaders, to their credit, have not spread the illusion that saving up and gambling on the stock market, rather than class struggle for adequate social insurance, is a route to decent pensions for the working class.

In contrast trade union leaders in Britain have engaged in gross class collaboration with both employers and the City over pensions for 50 years via the privatised occupational and other funded pensions systems.

Final salary occupational pensions (a form of pyramid selling based on stock market investments) would have collapsed years ago had it not been for the 'bubble' of the 1980s and 90s. Contrary to the hype that workers could expect pensions of around 50 percent of their final salary, the typical final salary pension has been less then 20 percent of average wages (and there is a huge gender gap to boot). This further concealed and delayed the crisis.

The privatisation of pension systems is a key aim of the World Bank, IMF and particularly the General Agreement on Trade and Services. We need to formulate and campaign for an exit strategy from privatised pensions, before things get much worse and workers and pensioners become more demoralised and misled by the government, the private pensions industry and the TUC.

Hugh Lowe
London