Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/685/12754
Hands off our pensions!
For a one-day public sector strike
John McInally, national vice-president PCS, personal capacity
Enough is enough; the government's cuts programme is an unfolding disaster for working people and the middle classes. We must all now work to build for maximum unity to deliver the type of mass, coordinated industrial action that will stop this coalition government in its tracks.
The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) has argued for maximum unity among public sector unions to defend pensions. The coalition's plans to make us pay more, work longer and receive less must be collectively opposed - we either fight together or go down separately. That's why the PCS supported and took part in the National Shop Stewards Network march and lobby to the TUC for a one-day public sector strike.
The national executive of the PCS has voted for a second national day of action following on from the tremendous strike on 30 June. That strike brought together civil service and education workers in defiance of the Con-Dem government's attempt to steal our pensions in order to pay for the deficit left by the failure of the banks and the unregulated market system.
Strike action, scheduled for November, will be bigger and more widely supported than in June. The full scale of the robbery that Cameron's gang wants to carry out is hitting home - and workers throughout the public sector are growing angrier by the day.
PCS and the NUT school teachers' union have opposed going into 'scheme talks' while the core issues were unresolved. Some TUC and union leaders believed that being 'reasonable' and accepting the inevitability of cuts in public sector pensions would lead to concessions. They have now been left high and dry by the multi-millionaire, multiple home-owning, expenses fiddling pensions minister Francis Maude and his lot.
Other unions including the firefighters, other education unions, including the EIS in Scotland, and the Northern Ireland Public Services Association are set to ballot. It now looks as if the GMB will ballot too and the pressure is growing on the Unison leadership to join the ranks of those determined to stand up to the coalition spivs.
PCS is geared towards producing the biggest turnout of members in the next strike. The TUC must now coordinate the growing number of unions prepared to fight. That means, as well as building support for action in the workplaces, we also need to do so in our communities, utilising the network of anti-cuts alliances.
30 June showed the overwhelming majority of working people identified with and supported the striking teachers and civil servants. They recognise that if we are defeated on pensions then the Con-Dems will came back to steal even more from us. Millions of private sector workers have had their pensions stolen too - by profiteering shareholders and employers.
The attack on pensions, along with measures like the appalling Welfare Reform Bill, demonstrates the savagery of this government and highlights the simple fact that if we are to stop them we must oppose all cuts.
In The Socialist 14 September 2011:
Socialist Party features
Socialist Party youth and students
Stop attacks on pensions
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party review
Socialist Party reports and campaigns