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A flustered Francis Maude today couldn't justify the Tory position that public sector pensions are "unaffordable". In an interview on BBC's Today Program with PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka, Maude was cornered on the "unaffordable" claim. He quickly U-turned on "unaffordable" with "untenable" - another undefined term to hide behind - he offered no explanation as to why the pensions are now "untenable". There's an interesting commentary on this debate by George Eaton over at New Statesman - if you look at the Hutton Report then, "The government's plan to ask employees to work longer and pay more is a political choice, not an economic necessity". As the Public Accounts Committee observed: "Officials appeared to define affordability on the basis of public perception rather than judgement on the cost in relation to either GDP or total public spending." In other words, the public have been misled and ministers are determined to keep misleading them.

At a rally in central London Sally Hunt, president of The University and College Union, had this to say about Nick Clegg's, "public sector pensions are gold-plated" comment: "The average pension of a female college lecturer is just £6,000 a year.  This is a government that has already presided over an increase in the income of the richest 1,000 people by 18%. How dare they call us gold-plated?"

 

The BBC is reporting that members of the National Union of Teachers and the Associations of Teachers and Lecturers are expected to walk out on 30 June.  The seriousness of this action is reflected by this being the first time that the moderate ATL has ever taken national strike action. The unions say the pensions changes will leave them working longer, paying more and getting less when they retire.  I don't see any bonus-bulging bankers worrying about their pensions.

 
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