CBI director general Sir Digby Jones has launched a stinging attack on today’s strike by local government workers, calling the action selfish and divisive.
Unions claim 1.5 million staff will strike over plans to raise retirement ages to 65 and remove the so-called Rule of 85, whereby workers can retire if their age and total years of service add up to more than 85.
Jones blamed the government for the unrest, saying it had given unions “all the ammunition they need…by its craven surrender in letting their nationally-employed colleagues continue to retire at 60”.
Last year the government backed down over plans to increase the retirement age for civil servants, health workers and the police in the face of strike threats.
“The way to address that divide is by bringing all public sector pensions – including local government pensions – into the 21st century,” Jones said.
“Private sector employers and their staff have had to get real, and recognise that longer life expectancies and the rising cost of providing pensions mean longer working lives.”
“How can it be fair for a cleaner working in the private sector to subsidise, through their council tax, a more comfortable retirement for someone doing the same job in the public sector?” he asked.
Jones added that if the strike is successful it will push council tax bills even higher, hitting pensioners the hardest.
“It’s selfish, it’s divisive, it’s hitting those who’ll be hurt the most – it’s trade unionism at its worst,” he said.
Unions have accused the government perpetuating gender discrimination as many local government workers are low paid women who would be forced to work longer.