Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/695/13217
Reasons to be on strike
Union reps prepare for N30
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.
In The Socialist 23 November 2011:
Pensions' strike, N30
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party news and analysis
The Socialist - Readers' comments
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International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news