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A New Breed of Lord Haw Haw

The Lord knows best. Lord Hutton, a former secretary of state and the current head of a government-established commission charged with the sacred duty of reducing the costs of public sector pensions in Britain, works in mysterious ways.

He determined that people are now living too long to justify a continuation of the existing pension setup and they should be required to live well beyond the encroachment of geriatric age to qualify for these pensions.

Mr. Lord Hutton thinks the age of 68 sounds about right for a minimum retirement age. That new pension would be less for many teachers because the lord advocates a career average arrangement rather than one based on a teacher’s final salary.

Implementation of his recommendations would mean a 25 percent cut in the value of the average teacher’s pension, according to the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, one of several teachers unions in Britain.

The ATL, not generally viewed as militant, voted at its annual conference for a strike ballot to protest the proposed erosion of benefits. It would be a one-day-walk-out in the summer (the school year extends later in Britain) and possible additional days in the future. The union will not disrupt exams, but, says Mary Bousted, the union’s general secretary, the “members are very angry — and it takes a lot to get them this angry.”

The largest teachers union in Britain is the National Union of Teachers. It also is extremely critical of the Hutton Report, although its press release neither directly nor indirectly threatens any job action.

“Let’s be clear — public sector pensions are not ‘gold plated’ and they are affordable…These measures will…lead to dependency on the state in old age. This is in no one’s interest…What it also reveals is that the government has already set its own disgraceful course,” said Christine Blower, the union’s general secretary.

In the United Kingdom, as in practically all industrialized nations as well as those less conventionally “modern,” the penalties for job actions are not as murderous as they are in the Empire State. The aggrieved folks will not be forced, soon after their last paycheck, to forage through dumpsters for food as employer-imposed penance for not caving in or being infinitely forgiving of exploitation or abuse.

What know they of our workers’ paradise?