UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Arise you owners from your slumbers, arise you agents of change!

Karl Marx said that the proletariat were the revolutionary class, that they would transform the ownership structures of capitalism and replace it with a new economic system of socialism. But he never said what that would look like or how it would be structured!

Workers, he said, were propertyless wage slaves, paid enough to exist, but the surplus labour above that necessary for their reproduction was captured by the capitalist class. Some of this was reinvested in new capital, some kept by the capitalists for their own enrichment.

This still remains the case today of course but are workers without the means of production and were does the surplus value go now? The truth maybe unpalatable to some but the answer to the first question is a resounding NO! Workers who save in pension funds are the dominant owners of capital now and the surplus value goes in part to the pension funds in the form profits that pay out dividends to the shareowners.

At the end of 2010, the average global asset allocation for pension funds of the seven largest markets was 47% equities, 33% bonds, 1% cash and 19% other assets.

In short the organised workers of the world who save in pension funds are the dominant owners of capitalism. The truth is however you don’t know it.

In 2011 global institutional pension fund assets in 13 major countries increased by 12% during 2010 to reach a new high of US$ 26 trillion. The growth is the continuation of a trend which started in 2009 when assets grew 17%. http://www.towerswatson.com/united-kingdom/research/3761

Global pension assets now amount to 76% of the global GDP (71% in 2009), substantially higher than the equivalent figure of 61% in 2008.

The figure for pension fund assets dwarfs the $3.5tn amassed by sovereign wealth funds and the $2.5tn of foreign debt owned by the Chinese government.

The UK, the third-largest pension market after the US and Japan, has grown to $2.3tn from $1.3tn in 2000. Pension assets now amount to 76% of GDP, an improvement on the 2008 figure of 61%, but still below the pre-crisis level of 78% in 2007.

The UK now has as much invested in pension funds as the value of its GDP. It also has the highest allocation to company shares in the world, of 55%, although this is down from 74% in 2000.

So there you have it… past generations through their struggle have transformed workers into the owners of capital. Now it’s time for you to act as owners of capital… to ask your trustees and LGPS reps, where is money our going, I want you to vote down executive pay, I want you to tackle the banking crisis, I want you to make sure our investments are improving the economy and not hurting other workers!

Every single worker saver in a pension fund is a capitalist..it’s time the starvelings arose from their slumbers and used their US$ 26 trillion in assets to change the world!