Linda Colling: Strikers are greedy

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Tomorrow the country will be held to ransom.

Black Wednesday indeed and what amounts to blatant blackmail.

As many as two million public sector workers are all set to shut schools, stop NHS operations, bin collections, the Metro and create chaos at airports and ports in the biggest day of action in 30 years.

There’ll be plenty of whingeing and whining how the lower paid, the lollipop ladies, nurses and care workers are forefeiting a day’s pay when they can least afford it but are making a sacrifice by standing up for what they believe in.

No, they want to get real instead of indulging in what neither they nor this country can afford.

Tomorrow’s strikers want to count themselves lucky that they have jobs.

And it’s the greedy teachers unions who will be at the forefront of the walkout with the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) striking for the first time in its 114-year history.

Rich, given the average secondary school head on £74,000, who can expect an annual pension of up to £37,000, is greedily and gallingly striking.

Contrast their feather-bedded retirement years with a private sector worker who would have to amass a pension pot of about £640,000 to buy such a pension. And they retire years sooner than folks in the private sector. Many public sector workers have pensions that are based on final salaries and are index-linked to keep rise with inflation. They should be so lucky that they have such generous pensions which the rest of us have funded while losing our final salary pension schemes.

And yet, though few union members voted to strike, the unions are going ahead. One thing’s for sure, the fat cat union leaders won’t be losing a penny piece in pay.

There’s Unison’s Dave Prentis, militant Bob Crow of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) and Mark Serwotka head of the Public and Commercial Services union who are enjoying employer contributions to their own pensions worth as much as 40 per cent of their salary, Crow, whose basic salary fell last year by almost 13 per cent to £84,006 saw his pension contributions boosted by 17 per cent from £29,086.

Prentis has a salary of £91,577. It fell last year, but his pension contributions rose by 32 per cent, meaning his total pay package increased. Serwotka receives pension contributions worth £26,159 or 29.5 per cent of his salary, making his total package £124,876.

These are critically hard times for everyone and that’s why it is only right that state employees pay bigger contributions and retire later. That’s what private sector workers have been doing for years.

The trouble is they’ve had it too good for too long and now they reckon they’re entitled to strike.

As for this being the start of more strikes, the poor performers, pen pushers and bureaucrats better watch out.

They might just find they can be done without and be pensioned off before they know it.