The Summer of Discontent. It doesn’t sound too terrifying. Indeed, nothing ever seems quite so bad when the sun’s shining.
However, this is exactly what the public sector unions are threatening us with, their rabble-rousing leaders promising a summer of closed schools, closed hospitals, services decimated.
Dave Prentis tells his Unison members that “this is the fight of our lives... and it is a fight we must win” The Government has developed an alarming penchant for U-turns in recent times; but this time it must stand firm. In fact, if anything, it should go further.
The issue igniting all this anger is something remarkably dry, but nonetheless crucial: pensions reform.
The Government wants pension contributions from public sector workers to go up; the unions say this is unfair.
However, it is not. Currently, public sector pensions cost nearly 40 per cent of salary for most public sector workers (for police officers that figure is nearer 70 per cent); however, neither employers nor employees pay anything near that into the schemes.
The result is a huge black hole, funded by taxpayers’ money, with the ongoing liabilities being passed on to the next generation of taxpayers. In fact, total public sector pensions liabilities are