caz963: (Grammar)
[personal profile] caz963
An entry by someone on my f-list reminded me that I wanted to post something about the public sector workers' strike that's taking place on Wednesday this week.

If someone had said to me, twenty years ago that I'd actually be in a union, I'd have laughed. If they'd gone on to tell me that not only would I belong to a union but that I'd also vote in favour of a strike, I'd have been trying to find them a padded cell!

But... both of those things have indeed come to pass. Technically speaking though, I won't be on strike on Wednesday as I'm off sick, but had I not been, then I'd definitely have withdrawn my labour for the day. I - like most of the other people who will be striking - can't really afford it. But better to lose a day's pay than to lose thousands of pounds in our pensions in later life.

I can only really speak from the teachers' perspective, as I'm not familiar with the terms and conditions under which other public sector workers are employed. But I'm continually pissed off with hearing someone on the news spouting that public sector workers get nice fat pensions - £50k p.a!! - and that we're not as badly paid as people in the private sector. Okay, so it may be true that people in the private sector have taken larger pay cuts than in punlic services. But it seems to me that the majority of public servants were less well paid than their private sector equivalents - and also that the majoriy of unskilled public sector jobs are pretty badly paid. Mind you, even nurses, who are highly skilled, are badly paid!

As for me. Well, I've just moved up the teacher's pay scale to M6, which is the highest point on the mainscale. Anyone can look up the payscales, so I'll tell you that I earn around £31,500. Not bad money at all, although anyone who reads this LJ regularly will probably (I hope!) agree with me that it's not nearly enough for all the crap I have to put up with!! But it's taken me six years (including my training year) to reach this point, and unless I successfully apply to cross the threshold onto the Upper Pay Scale, or acquire any extra responsibilities, I won't get any more pay increases, other than inflationary ones, assuming we ever see the like of them again.

Please don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to plead poverty and I know there are people out there who are a lot less well off than I am. I'm just trying to speak about my own situation and reasons for supporting this strike.

A few weeks ago, I met with a financial consultant to see if I could "tidy up" my current pension arrangements. Before I had the kids, I worked in the music business which was a pretty "mobile" industry, and I moved around a lot and paid into several different pension schemes along the way. Now, obviously, as I've only been teaching for seven years, my teacher's pension entitlement is going to be a lot less than someone who entered the profession in their twenties. But going on the figures this bloke worked out for me, I reckon that if I'd become a teacher in my twenties and continue teaching until 66 - or later - I could end up with a pension of about £10-11k pa. So I have no idea where the meeja is getting this ridiculous figure of £50k from! They're probably just using figures for the highest earners to frighten everyone - or just making it up like they usually do.

So I'm not in line for a fat pension by any means. And it's important to realise that many teachers retire in their fifties (probably on reduced pensions) - and now I know why. It's a mentally and physically exhausting job - not many of us sit behind a desk all day (chance would be a fine thing!) - and even if the government wasn't going to be raising the state pension age to 66 (and maybe even 67 by the time I reach retirement age) you're asking people in their sixties to keep up with kids young enough to be their grandchildren and great-grandchildren all day, five days a week. It's tiring enough when they're your own grandkids and you can hand them back after a couple of hours!

I saw a blog post last week which suggested that the average life-expectancy of a teacher after they reach 65 is about 3 weeks! I fervently hope that was a joke. Although it does bear out something the financial guy said to me about the longevity - or lack thereof - of teachers.

What it comes down to, is that the government wants me to work for longer, to increase my pension contributions by 3%, so I'll be paying in 8% of my salary - and to get back less at the end of it.

And to add insult to injury, I heard news reports today saying that this new infrastructure initiative that George Osborne is going to announce tomorrow will be part funded by the savings made on public pensions. It was on Radio 4 - so it must be true!

The rest of the funding is apparently coming from China. Forget the government turning a blind eye to the Human Rights abuses we all know go on over there - I reckon they'll need a blindfold, but have no idea where they'll find one big enough.

Right, that's me done on the soap-box. Time for tea.
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December 2012

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