Out for the posties' pensions

Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials
13 February 2007

Royal Mail's plan to close its final salary pension scheme to new entrants marks another escalation in the attacks against workers' pensions. Indeed, while this is common practice in the private sector, it is unprecedented in the state sector.

This announcement was stage-managed to coincide with an alleged 87% fall in Royal Mail's profits over the past six months. Except that this turns out to be due to a long-deferred contribution made by the company into its pension fund! How much can they lie?

But this is not the only deception. Royal Mail claims its pension fund deficit is now £6.6bn - a £1bn increase over last year. Yet most of the fund's assets are in shares, and the London share market index has just reached a 6-year high! How come then, has this deficit increased so drastically?

Of course, workers have no means of checking such colossal figures. They are worked out behind closed doors. The process remains shrouded in secrecy, in the name of "commercial confidentiality", no doubt.

However, some experts have given the game away. They say that the £1.1bn deficit increase already announced by Royal Mail last year was, in fact, due to raising the assumed life expectancy of a male worker from 82 to 86 years! But how many postal workers actually live to such an age? Definitely not many after a whole life on shift work!

Who knows what new trick the government has invented this year at Royal Mail? But what we do know is that such lies have already been used as a pretext to deprive hundreds of thousands of workers of any chance to get a decent pension.

Should it be tolerated, when the real problem is that companies have been helping themselves from the till, by raiding pension funds over many years? In the case of the Post Office, in addition, billions of pounds of postal profits have gone straight into Brown's coffers.

And today, bosses and ministers have the nerve to tell us that we should agree to reduced pensions because of the deficit they created? No way!

It is high time the working class imposed its scrutiny. When we decide we have had enough of these thieves, we will force them to open their books. Then we will see where the money has gone and from whose pockets we can get it back!