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From The Socialist newspaper, 23 November 2011

Reasons to be on strike

Union reps prepare for N30

Graham O'Reilly
30 June coordinated strike action by the PCS civil service union and NUT, ATL and UCU teaching unions, photo Paul Mattsson

30 June coordinated strike action by the PCS civil service union and NUT, ATL and UCU teaching unions, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

My partner and I are union reps in the public sector. She is a steward with Unison and I am with Prospect. Over the last few weeks we have been giving people information on pensions and the ballots that both unions have been holding.

It came as no shock when both unions voted in favour of industrial action on 30 November. What has come as a shock is what has been said and asked since the results of those ballots have been published.

People have asked my wife why are they striking? Was it to do with the upcoming shift changes? Others have said to her they voted yes to action because they were tired of being bullied by management, others because they are upset at not getting a wage rise again. Very few people she has spoken to voted yes because of the pension issue.

A manager told me he had voted against action as he felt a few extra pounds each month towards his pension was not a lot to ask. I took the time to go through the figures with him. It was not a few quid each month he was going to pay, it was 100 extra every month and he would be getting less than he thought in return when he eventually retired.

On top of this he was not getting a wage rise for the foreseeable future. His home utility bills had increased, the cost of feeding his family had increased and the cost of a tank of fuel to get him to work had increased from 55 in May 2010 to 67 today. He was considerably worse off and a pay rise of 20% would only just see him back to the standard of living he had two years ago.

We then spoke about cuts in services, both nationally and locally, cleanliness in hospitals and how money was not going to pay staff and to keep hospitals clean but how it was being given in bonuses to managers and to shareholders.

When we finished talking he said he wished he had voted yes and was thankful that his 'no' vote was in the minority.

Everyone my wife and I have spoken to in the last few days has their own reason for taking action on 30 November. Some are worried about their pension but most are not. They are worried about now, worried about having no money to pay their bills, worried that the services they rely are on being cut, worried that they won't have a job.

The message we are getting from the people we represent is they overwhelmingly support action on 30 November whether or not they voted and even those who voted 'no' are now changing their minds. I know one who will be joining me on the picket line.

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In The Socialist 23 November 2011:

Pensions' strike, N30

Enough is enough! Make N30 the start of a fight to stop all cuts

Reasons to be on strike

Socialist Party feature

Capitalism is crisis - there is an alternative - fight for socialism!

Socialist Party news and analysis

Con-Dems worsen the housing crisis

Massive job cuts undermining NHS

Millions unemployed - workers and students must unite and fight!

Them & Us

The Socialist - Readers' comments

Tragic effect of recession

Why I became a socialist

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Jarrow marchers put forward an alternative

No answers from politicians on Newsnight

Save Coventry Sure Start

Update: Occupy

Support the anti-cuts election challenge

State intimidation of young protesters

Tories and Labour fail to give 'Any Answers'

Women: sick of sexism, discrimination and cuts?

Mansfield - build houses, create jobs

Pensions protest in Maude's constituency

International socialist news and analysis

Why Europe's capitalist leaders cannot save the floundering eurozone project

Ruling PSOE battered in Spanish general election

Syria: Eight months of mass protests met with bloody brutality

Egyptian masses fight for real change

Socialist Party workplace news

Greece and Italy get unelected technocrats - Southampton gets chief executives!

Construction workers fight pay cuts

Fire service cuts

Bus drivers strike over pay

Workplace In brief


Obituary - Geoff Atkins


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