Public Sector Strike

Jan Leeming

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Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.



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Jan's Blog

Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.


Date: 30th November 2011


None of us likes change especially when it hits us in the pocket.

If I have my facts correct, many many years ago public sector workers were assured Gold plated pensions to make up for the fact that they received less remuneration than those in the private sector (that’s excluding people like Bankers). That difference was eradicated a long long time ago and yet they still cling on to this privilege even when our country is sinking under debt and recession. Again if I have my facts correct this move to rectify an anomaly is not going to be active for many years yet so those facing retirement within the next decade won’t be worse off.

There is also a sort of mini scam which goes on in Public sectors whereby a person approaching retirement is often elevated in grade which, of course, reflects favourably on their pension pot. And one is regularly made aware of the Non jobs advertised in The Guardian – carrying eye-watering salaries. And I understand that most public sector employment carries guaranteed annual incremental rises regardless of performance.

Of course I understand that the public sector workers don’t want to be stripped of many of their benefits but for decades now it’s the private sector which has been shoring up the public sector pensions which bear little relationship to the amounts those individuals have paid in to their pension pot. It is now proven that, on average, the private sector worker is 3% less well off than the public sector worker.

( Because of the nature of my work in Radio and TV, employers wanted me ‘On Contract’ so for years, though paying PAYE, I was not part of any pension scheme nor gained the benefits of being self employed. I paid as much as I could into a private pension scheme. Although not unintelligent, I am useless when it comes to understanding finance so let myself be led into putting every spare pound into the Equitable Life. That ancient establishment went under in the year 2000. (I rather fancy that had it not been regarded as the Pension Fund of the Toffs, Mr. Brown might have ridden in on his white charger to save the day as he did for the voters who came predominantly from Labour heartland – I mean Northern Rock) I fought my corner, with the aid of a Pensions specialist, and eventually after 7 years of battle, I did receive partial recompense in the form of an Annuity. This sum is just over half of the sum I should have received on retirement and I’m not talking megabucks but a very very modest pension. At least I got something, unlike the poor souls who died in the intervening decade, or are still waiting for some kind of recompense. In my day in television we were paid a relative pittance compared with today’s gargantuan salaries and we were unable to capitalize on our recognition. There was very little endorsement or sponsorship)

So I’m sure I speak for thousands of us, who were thrifty and hoped to have comfort in our old age with just a little to spare for the odd luxury like a holiday, when I say that I see this strike as unrealistic and almost amoral. When a ship is sinking, it’s all hands on deck and Britain is sinking under its massive debt – much of it brought about by the fecklessness of the last Labour Government with its lack of restraint, its policy of virtually unchecked immigration, and Mr. Brown selling off our Gold Reserves at a Bargain Basement price.
And on the subject of pensions, I find it very aggravating that one has to pay tax on one’s pensions if they amount to more than the single person’s allowance or the slightly higher allowance if one is over 65. I would dearly like to see anyone in Government trying to exist on £10,000 a year which is roughly the sum one is allowed to keep – tax free – over the age of 65. Yet benefit is capped at £25,000 which is more than many hard working people receive as a pension after a lifetime of work.

So Grumpy Old Woman that I am – where is today’s Work Ethic. I’m all for paying my taxes to help the genuinely sick and the old, the disabled and those who would like to work but are unable to find employment but not for the feckless who seem to think the world owes them a living or that the Government has a Money Tree which they just shake and down come the pounds.

Mind you, successive Governments (both Labour and Conservative) have a great deal to answer for in that they have done nothing to equip many of the young for the world of work in a changed marketplace. Our manufacturing industry has been decimated, Governments allow Companies to take their Call Centres to the other side of the world (thus losing out on tax from salaries and tax from the Company profit) and they’ve completely failed many generations with their meddling in what used to be an Education system which was the envy of the world. (Tony Blair declared that 50% of students should go to University – what is the point when they take subjects which don’t equip them for the real world, come out with a degree and then can’t find work but feel too well educated to take a job which they think beneath them.)

There’s too much lily-livered Liberalism from politicians most of whom are well off, come from privileged backgrounds, have had private education and who have no idea how ordinary people exist. In the old days many entered politics after they’d already spent years in the workplace. They were older and wiser and could identify with the ordinary person. Nowadays politics is a career and dare I say, some of the politicians are too young to have a handle on reality in the everyday world. They go straight from University – where they probably took PPE – then become lobbyists or gofers for a Politican and always with the eye to the main chance. I used to have enormous respect for Politicians - I no longer have any respect for them and see most of them in Politics for what it can do for them rather than for what they can do for the good of the people and their country. Is Altruism dead?

When I think of some of the old who will die from hypothermia this winter because they can’t afford to keep themselves properly warm (and I bet most of them more than pulled their weight in the War to keep this country free and probably worked hard all their lives) and the sort of material things which are now regarded as necessities by the work-shy, it makes my blood boil. I only wish I were rich or could win millions on the lottery – I’d make damn sure the old were warm and well fed this winter at least.

Grumble over. Jan



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