UK Strikes about Pensions & Pay

I’ve payed a lot of tax recently, and in the past when my wife and I could have used help from “the system” (after Mark Attwood fucked me over), we were been denied because my English wife is married to me, an Australian… so when it comes to the subject of benefits, and people in generally complaining about things, I have a bit of a short fuse and strong opinions.

I’m a little baffled by the strikes in the UK… The UK strikes seem to be about two things – increases in the age at which someone can retire, and a “not big enough” pay increase for civil servants.

“From April 2016, women’s State Pension age will rise, equalising with men’s at 65 by November 2018″

Currently the retirement (pension) age for women is 60, and for men it’s 65. I’m all for equality, which is why I won’t complain that these ages are equalizing, even though women outlive men rather substantially (by 4.2 years on average, in fact). In theory, strictly speaking, the retirement (pension) age for women should be higher, but for whatever reason it’s been 5 years less than for men.

So, on point A) “Equalising Pension Age” I find it difficult to agree with the uk strikes.

The second big “boo raa” seems to be because the pension age is increasing from 65 (once the UK realizes equality) to 68… by 2046…

People retiring in 2021 will have to work 1 year longer, people retiring in 2037 will have to work 2 years longer, and people retiring in 2047 will have to work 3 years longer…

If we compare the increase in retirement age, with the increase in life expectancy…

In the past 10 years, life expectancy has increased by 2 years, in the next 10 years retirement age will increase by 1 year…. That’s a nice little two for one offer…

In the past 25 years, life expectancy has increased by 5.5 years, in the next 25 years the retirement age will increase by 2 years (Buy 1, get 2.75 free!)

In the past 35 years, life expectancy has increased by 7.3 years, in the next 35 years the retirement age will increase by 3 years (Buy 1, get 2.43 free!)

So, on point B) “Increasing retirement age” I can’t see how a reasonable person can complain, and again I can’t agree with the UK strikes. Work for a year, get 2.43 years paid holidays – cracking deal!

The final point on which UK civil servants are striking, is to do with pay increases for 2012. If I have understood correctly (and I haven’t done a whole lot of research into this) civil servants pay is only increasing by 1%, the argument being this isn’t enough in a country where inflation stands at 5%. I think the unions have chosen a very interesting figure with which to compare pay increases because, while inflation may indeed be at 5%, the UK economy certainly isn’t growing by 5% per year. In actual fact the economy is fairly stagnant, if not contracting.

When you take this into account, what public sector workers are striking for is to receive more money on average, than the average UK citizen.

Civil servants essentially are striking because they aren’t getting a disproportionately larger chunk of the pie.

Is this assessment realistic? Well, the more the government pays its staff, the more tax every other citizen has to pay to contribute to those wages. So yes, I think it is a pretty striking way to look at it. Take 1% away from non-gov workers, give that 1% to government workers, and that’s a 2% difference…

So, on point C) “Pay increases for civil servants”, frankly I think they are being greedy. Most probably don’t realize it, because the unions tell them what to think, which is unfortunate.

Now one final “this pisses me off” point…

I’m all for unions, and striking, and standing up for yourself… I’m well known to speak my mind (which upsets people who deserve to be upset), and I argue for whoever is right, often to my own detriment (I call myself a bit of a moral martyr… figjam).

That said…

I got chatting to my physiotherapist (I was playing paintball… it’s a long story) – she’s 24 and she doesn’t quite agree with the strikes. She told me doesn’t feel strongly enough about the issues in order to strike herself.

She wanted to stay at work and continue helping patients and I have a lot of respect for that… Do you think she had a choice?

If unions operate genuinely, with the best interests of its members as their primary goal, union members would be given a choice to strike…

Not my physio!!! Or anyone else in the NHS apparently. Their calendars were blocked out and they were told they couldn’t see patients on the 30th November. They essentially HAD to strike (or they could do extremely unappealing jobs in other areas of the hospital, either way they couldn’t do their own job and see patients).

It really rubs me up the wrong way that unions seem to be a form of dictatorship in which all members must follow the leader, regardless of their own beliefs and opinions. I think its foul, and I think it completely undermines the purpose of a union. Frankly, it pisses me off!

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