- 02:30 pm, Mon 12th Dec 2011
Day Of Action
Last week I was pleased to stand side by side with nurses, teachers, dinner ladies, council workers and many others as they took a stand against the deeply unfair cuts to public sector pensions that the Tory-led government is trying to push through.
Make no mistake, the decision to strike is never an easy one. No one wants to be in the position where they have to take strike action, least of all the very people who work tirelessly everyday to provide us with essential services. Unfortunately, this government has left people with no other option, you only have to listen to their rhetoric to know this.
Whilst the government may talk of "gold-plated pensions" for public sector workers, the facts tell a different story with the average NHS and local government pension standing at only £4000 a year, and is even less for women. They may say that pensions are unsustainable, but the truth is that at present the NHS pension is £2 billion in surplus. The single biggest reason for this reform is to pay off a debt that was not caused by workers, but by bankers, who gambled with our money and then expected the tax-payer to bail them out.
The cut that the government is trying to force through would mean that not only are workers expected to pay more at a time when their pay packets are already being stretched to breaking point by rising inflation and a pay freeze. But they are having to pay more to get approximately 15% less in their pension.
In Scotland approximately 300,000 people took strike action, many for the first time in their lives. I choose to stand with them on the picket to show my support, however it was deeply disappointing that the SNP did not choose to do the same.
The SNP has said that they support the workers whose pensions are being attacked, and yet their actions suggest otherwise with SNP MSPs crossing the picket line at the Parliament.
But it is not only in this area that the SNP are saying one thing and doing another. The SNP continue to say that they support frontline workers such as teachers and nurses and yet their actions continue to put them under increasing stress. There are now over 2,000 fewer nurses in our hospitals, making the job they do much harder and putting patient care at risk.
Whilst the SNP keep blaming the Tories for the cuts, the fact remains that many of these policy areas are devolved to the Scottish Parliament and it is the SNP Government who are choosing to implement the cuts in this way.
It is time the SNP stopped simply saying that they are on the side of workers and starting acting like it.
For me that means standing with people defending their right to a decent pension on the picket lines. It means actually protecting the budget of the NHS and maintaining the number of frontline staff. It means using the powers they have to protect Scotland from the disastrous cuts that the Tories are imposing too quickly and too deeply.