This coming Wednesday, possible millions of public sector workers will go on strike for 24 hours to protest against changes in their pension provisions. Many will join marches around the country (quite a few will probably also go Christmas shopping, but why not?). They promise to make it feel “like Christmas Day” (not because of food, presents or family time, but) because only essential services will be operating.

The reason for their strike is changes to their pension plans. Over the past few years, the government has indicated that the pension promises previously made to public sector workers are untenable. They have put forward proposals that will require people to work a little bit longer (delaying retirement by a few years), pay slightly more into their pension saving schemes while they are working, and accept slightly less payout when they do retire. You can read the details of the changes here.

I don’t understand why the government is using up so much political capital to make such small changes. They have agreed to delay implementation until 2022, for example. And they are only asking people to retire at age 67 (rather than 65). Much, much more reform is going to be needed before we get to 2050. Be that as it may, I have a slightly different point to make today.

My question is this: who do the strikers think is going to pay for their benefits? They do sound very whiny: you promised us!! We demand you give us what you said you would!!

Sure. The government promised to pay them a certain pension from the age of 65 until they died. But these people essentially “promised” the government that they would be dead by about age 75! So, maybe the government should just point out that this deal is two sided: you die when you promised you would, and you can retire with your full promised benefits at age 65.

But if you’re going to live longer, and not contribute more, then I ask the question again: who do these strikers think is going to pay for it?

The answer is simple: it’s their children, and their grandchildren. They’ve already changed the rules to force UK young people to clock up huge student loans and start life with a big millstone around their necks. Now they want to add to this a massive life long obligation to fund 30 or 40 years of non productive living. Are they serious?

I really do get worked up about this. Are they SERIOUS? Is this really what they want to give their children: a massive debt and a life long unsustainable obligation? It’s selfish. It’s short-sighted. And ultimately, it won’t work. The next generation won’t allow that to continue when they get into power in a few decade’s time.

Better thinking is needed. And better debate about this issue too.

I do not support this strikes, and urge the strikers to consider the implications of their demands.

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