Are you a public sector worker with an occupational pension? If so think very hard next time you vote. The unrelenting message from the Right (and sometimes the Lib Dems) is that public sector workers' pensions are too generous. The Tories have talked openly about "reforming" them.
Today's Telegraph features a typical rant from the Garry Bushell of business journalism Jeff Randall. In it he trots out the usual attacks on public sector pensions, and as usual makes some very basic errors.
For example he says that the Pensions Commission called for the retirement age to be put up to 68 in the long term. Not quite, the Commission was referring to State Pension Age - the age at which you draw your state pension. If SPA goes up to 68 it affects everyone, in the public and private sector. He gets it wrong again when he says the deal over public sector pensions allows existing scheme members to "retire" at 60. No Jeff, it means existing members can draw their pension at 60 - not the same thing. He also fails to mention, presumably because he doesn't know, that a large number of private sector schemes also allow their members to draw their pensions at 60.
Because he gets these basic facts wrong, he seems to think that public sector workers can retire at 60 whilst the rest of us work on to 68. Aside from the fact that he has confused pension age and retirement age, he obviously hasn't seen any stats on average retirement ages. I will try and dig some stats out but when I last looked at this they showed that average retirement age in the public sector was HIGHER than that at large companies in the private sector. Guess what Jeff, the private sector sometimes wants to boot out the oldies. And one reason why public sector workers have higher retirement ages is that some of them need to work past pension age to have a decent income.
We need to be very wary of these attacks because they represent an attempt by the Right to get private sector workers to agitate to undermine the conditions of those in the public sector. Make no mistake about this - the labour movement suffered a major setback in the private sector over pensions. Most final salary schemes have closed and they have typically been replaced by much less generous money purchase schemes. This is effectively a significant cut to the total package on offer.
But the cutbacks in the private sector should not be used as a reason to attack public sector pension schemes.