Hugh Lowe

Hole at the Heart of the System

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Following John P Johnston's excellent letter (July/August SR), at 82 and a longstanding member of the campaigning pensioners brigade (which I hope he will join), I think his description of the World Bank's model for a pension system is correct, omitting only to say where it came from - Britain.

It is an almost exact copy of the Beveridge pension model, whose plan was for a state pension 'sufficient... to provide the minimum income needed for subsistence... and furthers the condition within social security for the growth of a multi-million pound enterprise of private pensions'. This concept is the curse of our pension system but beloved by employers.

Occupational Hazard

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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.

Savaged to the Bone

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Regarding the Walrus article on pensions 'Move Over Darling' (April SR), I think the article is too detached from the struggle and has no clear class content. There are also some important omissions.

The push for funded pensions was instigated by employers but it could not have worked without the support of the trade union leaders. The promotion of funded pensions by union leaders, instead of a struggle for decent state pensions with sufficient employer contributions, now looks so stupid that one queries if stupidity is all it was--or is.

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