Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/689/12970
Strike on 30 November - no secret talks
For democratic control of all negotiations and industrial action
Trade unionists across Britain will have been angered to see reports that the TUC general secretary went to the Tory party conference a couple of weeks ago - not to protest at the government's anti-working class policies, but to hold secret talks to try to avert "mass strikes" against the attacks on pensions. The National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) immediately released a statement, an extract of which is below.
The NSSN recognises the need for negotiations but these should be out in the open, involving all those unions preparing to take action on 30 November (N30), which could see up to three million public sector workers on strike - more than on the first day of the 1926 general strike.
So-called "private talks" can only confuse union members and activists at a time when millions will be balloting for strike action.
In any case, the clear message that has to be sent to the government is that only a total and complete retreat from their plans to attack public sector pensions would be enough to consider stopping the N30 strike.
The government's proposals will make public sector workers pay more into their pensions at a time of pay freezes - and when many of these workers have actually seen pay cuts because of attacks on their terms and conditions. The Con-Dems then want them to get worse pension benefits and wait longer to receive them. It has been calculated that the net effect will be to take a day's pay off each worker every month.
It is clear from this situation that the government is terrified of the N30 strike and is desperate to prevent it. But this should be the signal to keep the pressure up.
The TUC and the trade unions need to send a clear message of defiance to the Con-Dems and work to get the best possible vote for strike action on the maximum turnout and then to build for a massive strike on N30 that can appeal to private sector workers, young people and pensioners to defeat this cabinet of millionaires.
- The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development announced on 10 October that 610,000 public sector jobs are likely to go in the next four years. This is the same figure released in a leaked document from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) in 2010. Since the leak, the OBR has been trying to massage their figures downwards, their latest effort claiming that 330,000 jobs are on the line.
- TUC research shows that the lowest paid are being hit hardest by job cuts over the last three years. It is no surprise to find that the government are lying about the effects of their cuts. But it makes it all the more vital to ensure that N30 is a success and that plans are made for further action to defend jobs, services and pensions.
How to make N30 a success
- If your union is balloting, you could organise a workplace meeting, if applicable jointly with other unions. This should form the basis for democratic control of the strike.
- You could organise a public meeting in your town or city via the unions in dispute or trades council, anti-cuts campaign or NSSN. Explain the need to prepare for further action if necessary.
- Plan for a demonstration in your town or city on the day.
- All united - invite private sector workers, young people, pensioners, benefit claimants etc, to any public meetings, rallies and demonstrations.
Who is voting when
- NAHT (headteachers' union) - ballot closes on 9 November
- NASUWT will ballot between 4 and 17 November
- Unison: 11 October - 3 November
- GMB will ballot between 31 October and 16 November
- Unite has yet to announce a timetable for a ballot
- Teaching unions ATL, UCU and NUT along with civil service union PCS, do not need to re-ballot. Having balloted for the very successful action on 30 June, they still have a ballot majority for strike action in place.
Lobby of Parliament
The main teaching unions: - ASCL, ATL, NAHT, NASUWT, NUT, UCAC and UCU are backing a lobby of parliament on Wednesday 26 October.
The National Pensioners Convention will also be attending to protest at the way that the change of indexation from RPI to the lower CPI is already robbing pensioners (see page four).
Assemble 12 noon, Victoria Gardens, Westminster, SW1.
March to the Department of Education to hand in the mass petition.
Plan now for more action
Martin Powell-Davies, a member of the national executive of the NUT writes a regular blog about NUT issues. In his latest entry, reporting on the recent NUT executive meeting and plans for N30, he finishes by saying: "The NUT executive will meet again in November to discuss what plans are being made for further action with other unions.
The NASUWT is talking about workload action - although their plans aren't yet clear. However, we are certainly happy to discuss joint 'non-strike' sanctions. However, it is strike action that will be the key.
I will certainly be calling for the union to name further days for action after Christmas if the government refuses to retreat. A rolling programme of regional strike action is being considered, as well as national strike days.
As I said at the NSSN rally [before the TUC lobby on 11 September], my own preference is for a clear step-up in our action - by calling a national 48-hour shutdown across the public sector."
- For more see: http://electmartin1.blogspot.com/
In The Socialist 12 October 2011:
Socialist Party youth and students
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party fundraising
The Socialist - readers' comments