Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/700/13466
Unison member: no pensions sell-out
This is an extract of a response on the pensions 'heads of agreement' which was recently sent to a Unison official in local government, from a steward in a large Unison branch.
I have to say that I believe we should reject the 'heads of agreement' and there are several reasons for this. Obviously there are a few minor concessions related to those closest to retirement and the lower-paid but the principles of the attack on pensions in the public sector remain - pay more, work longer, get less.
The very fact that those minor concessions were gained is the result of the massive united strike action taken so far and we should not let that be forgotten.
The coalition government is weak and divided and desperate not to fall apart and it will sense victory if we become divided...
The fact that the civil servants and some teaching unions are holding out against this potential deal is a lesson to the other unions that we should stand united...
All around the world now it seems that workers are having to pay for this crisis and that particularly any sense of public service or collective provision is being dismantled to add to the profits of the few. This is why in every sector of society - health, education, local government, transport, housing, welfare - we are under attack...
This campaign has seen our unions gain in membership and credibility. This is because we have been willing to fight and stand up for workers, we have been strong and principled, not weak. We have been united in standing up for our members and they have backed us up. In essence we have reverted in many ways to what unions are actually in existence for and that is to fight for the rights and conditions of our members, of workers. I would feel defeated and hypocritical and feel I would have let down my fellow workers if we accepted this proposal, especially since we were meant to be fighting against a pensions plan that forced us to work longer, pay more and get less...
It would be very difficult and indeed wrong to accept the proposals with so little gained and so much of what we were defending lost. It would lead to us being seen as selling out our members, old and new; it would weaken the union movement nationally and locally, with people coming to the conclusion that nothing is worth fighting for and that defeat is inevitable.
It would lead the way to further defeats and concessions as the government would be given the signal to 'go for the kill' with a spineless and unprincipled Labour Party chasing them rightwards as the working class become even more disillusioned, divided and hopeless. Like the Grand Old Duke of York we would have been marched right up to the top of the hill and then marched back down again.
In The Socialist 11 January 2012:
Socialist Party Interview
Them and Us
Youth fight for jobs
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party features
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party women
Socialist Party news
Socialist Party reviews and comments