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The public sector strikes; a big success or a “damp squib”?

Today has seen one of the biggest industrial actions in living memory.  Members of 29 trade unions (all of whom are public sector workers) voted to strike today, in opposition to proposed government reforms to public sector pensions. The government is still in talks with the unions over the reform plans.

The government are proposing a £2.8bn increase in contribution payments by 2014/2015, pegging the retirement age to the state pension age and switching the way pension contributions are increased every year from the higher RPI rate of inflation to the lower CPI rate.

The government also plan to move staff from final salary schemes to career average schemes. Approximately 2.6 million people from across the range of public sector posts from teachers to immigration officers and care workers were ballotted – with an estimated 750,000 voting yes.  The government say that the reforms are part of the plan to cut public spending, cut the deficit and improve the economy; however the plan faces large opposition as it will cut the amount the size of many people’s pensions. CLICK HERE TO KEEP READING

Why the Legal Aid cuts are bad for everyone

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Since the introduction of Legal Aid more than 60 years ago by Prime Minister Clement Attlee, the service has helped the poor and socially disenfranchised in our society gain the legal assistance they would often otherwise be unable to afford. The Coalition Government’s Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Bill has, in the last week, had its first reading in the House of Lords, and aims to cut around £350 million from Legal Aid in spite of almost universal public criticism. Overseen by Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke and the Minister in charge of Legal Aid reform Jonathan Djanogly, the Bill has highlighted in many people’s eyes the inability of the Government both to sympathise with those at the lower end of the economic spectrum, and deliver lasting and well thought out reforms to the public sector. Read the rest of this entry

Government’s proposals on public sector pensions leaves the unions in a tricky position

The biggest general strike in generations was thrown into doubt yesterday after the government offered up the Trade Unions an improved deal on public sector pensions. The unions, who have been threatening a mass walkout for months in light of the government’s original proposals, sought to make it clear last night that as things currently stand the strike will go ahead. However, union leaders were speaking in markedly less militant tones about the government yesterday which suggests there may yet be a compromise to be had which would see the strikes called off.   Read the rest of this entry

Perception and reality: Governing by hypocrisy

When footballer Samir Nasri broke his hand last week, some cynics questioned whether it was the burden of carrying home his hefty pay packet that caused the injury.

This, of course, is not a football blog. The sentiment expressed here, is, however, significant.

The 50p tax rate, introduced under the Labour government, applies to all earnings above £125,000. It is a rate that has apparently caused football clubs, such as Nasri’s Manchester City, to inflate further the wages of their staff in order to compensate. It is this very sort of false economy that has driven leading economists to call for the Government to scrap the rate. Such a high tax, it is said, may serve the public desire for the richest to ‘pay their fair share’, evident in the disdain with which footballers’ wages are met, but it does not deliver on its economic promise. It is thought that the Conservative faction within the Government will answer this call, though their Lib Dem partners may have something to say about that. This would be a grave error. Read the rest of this entry

The Unions will continue to fight for fairer public sector pension reform

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When over half a million public sector workers walked out on strike at the end of last month over the issue of pensions, it seemed we were set for a summer standoff between the government and the unions that might dominate the political landscape for the foreseeable future. Of course the phone-hacking scandal and the subsequent fallout have shunted such a confrontation towards the side-lines but from there the battle goes on and the last fortnight has seen several interesting developments. Click here to keep reading

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