The attacks on workers’ pensions - the increase in contributions toward pensions, and the increases in the age for getting pensions - have been met with anger wherever they’ve been proposed or introduced. Unions have been loud in their criticisms of the attacks. In many countries there have been demonstrations and strikes over the issue, for example in Greece where there’s been a 25% cut in basic pension rates. However, the example of Britain shows that these union-led mobilisations have tended to divide rather than unite different sectors of the working class.
After the trade union marches and strikes against the Coalition’s pension cuts the unions went straight back into the serious business of working with government officials in order to implement the latest austerity measures. So individually, behind the scenes, relying on their usual tactics of division and secret talks, the unions are again working with the government against the interests of the working class.
Since the 1980s, the ruling class in Britain has been discussing how the various pensions schemes aimed at the working class have been too generous and unaffordable. Even at their peak, final salary schemes were generally only available to workers at the largest companies, leaving millions of workers dependent on the state pension or to be ‘mis-sold’ dodgy private pensions.
Prior to the credit crunch of August 2007,
there was already talk of a ‘pensions crisis.' Final salary schemes (paying a
guaranteed income on retirement) were being ditched by many employers. The
demolition of these schemes has gathered pace.
The ruling class likes to call the period of time that goes from one recession to another a "recovery." What was unique about this alleged period of capitalist "prosperity" was that the living conditions of the working class actually continued to deteriorate at an alarming rate.