Thursday, February 26, 2009

Post Office Pensions

The government has decided that the best line of attack to privatise the post office (the current proposal is a direct sell off of a mighty 30% of the mail) is to point to the rather startling £ 5.9 billion pensions deficit and say that the only way to fill that hole is to have private companies creaming profits out of the organisation.

Of course, it has been suggested that nationalisation of the pensions scheme might be a more logical approach but then what's logic ever had to do with the privatisation mania? As the CWU says the pensions are just an excuse. It's all about the ongoing desire to privatise the post - an employer which is one of the last bastions of a stable and militant trades unionism.

I initially thought that perhaps this deficit had been created by the financial crisis but in fact, if it has contributed to the problem it's certainly not the cause. In fact the employer had been exempt from making employers' contributions to the fund for a whopping thirteen years, starting under the John Major government.

New Labour not only continued the policy, they introduced taxation on pension funds, after all times were good and always would be - they'd abolished boom and bust remember?

The crisis in the post office pensions has been an ongoing issue with new posties being taken on under a different scheme and old timers who've had their pensions downgraded. But maybe that's academic if the government are prepared to allow the pension fund to go to the wall as a lever to get their way in pulling down public services free from private enterprise.

How astonishing that the employer had been allowed to stop making their contributions to the pension funds and create this massive deficit. How disgusting that Peter Mandelson will use this very worrying fact to force through, or try to, something that every postie and the vast majority of the country are opposed to.

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