Phillip Lee MP: Public sector shouldn't have striked over pensionsBy Dr Phillip Lee MP
May 16, 2012
Approximately 250,000 public sector workers were estimated to have participated in strike action across the United Kingdom on Thursday, May 10, in protest at Government proposals regarding pensions.
The 24-hour action saw an estimated 32,000 off-duty police officers take part in a protest march and roughly 5,000 NHS staff striking in Wales.
Furthermore, approximately 30,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services Union also went on strike in Scotland.
Other workers that participated included civil servants, lecturers and border force staff.
Strike action took place as public sector workers are angered by Government proposals to raise the retirement age in line with the state pension age and for employee pension contributions to be increased, which they consider to be unfair.
I am of the opinion that they shouldn’t be striking and I stand by this view for two reasons.
Firstly, to leave public sector pensions unchanged is simply unaffordable.
The economy is in an incredibly difficult situation and, despite the cuts, we have just tipped over £1 trillion worth of public debt.
This figure is expected to rise further to £1.5 trillion by the middle of this decade.
People are also living much longer.
When the pension age of 65 was introduced, the average life expectancy of a person was 68.
For a woman, it is now almost 84 and climbing.
In the current climate, do we really believe that the state can afford to pay for people to be retired for such a long period?
The fact is that it cannot, which is why these proposals are a necessity.
My second objection concerns the issue of intergenerational fairness.
At the moment, young people will have to work longer in order to pay for people to be retired for 25 years, with no prospect of being able to enjoy such a long retirement themselves.
Consequently, I believe it is grossly unfair that one generation should be expected to pay for the public sector pension liabilities debts of another.
This is why I am so opposed to the strike action.
Ultimately, the economic situation is tough and the decade ahead will be tough – it is my responsibility as your Member of Parliament to highlight this.
Whilst I can appreciate the feelings held by many public sector workers, it doesn’t change the fact that we are all going to have to work harder and longer for less.
It is not what any of us want to hear, but it is the reality that we all find ourselves in.