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From The Socialist newspaper, 30 April 2014

Defending pensions, jobs, pay, services...

Back the strikes!

Neil Cafferky

Following the solid national strikes in November and February, firefighters are once again demonstrating their refusal to accept the pension robbery on offer from the employers.

Their union FBU has offered the employers every opportunity to settle this dispute through negotiations. However the bosses' continuing refusal to offer any meaningful concessions shows that firefighters have been left with no option but to strike. The employers have ignored evidence provided by the union proving the need for a pension scheme that takes into account the stresses and strains faced by firefighters.

The job of a firefighter is unique but the attacks upon their pensions, conditions and jobs are not. The employers and the government have no interest in the vital work that firefighters carry out every day. Instead their pensions and everything else that makes working life bearable is under attack, just like the attacks on millions of workers around the country.

Osborne's Autumn statement last year, not only brought forward by ten years the new retirement age of first 68 and then 69 - it will be open-ended with it being regularly reviewed in line with life expectancy.

This means workers only qualifying for their state pensions into their 70s. Because many occupational pensions use this age as a yardstick, workers will fear being forced to work until they drop for the full retirement benefits that they have worked and paid for.

In one fell swoop, Osborne has kicked away one of the main planks of the pensions deal that unfortunately some of the union leaders signed, to halt the mass public sector strikes of 2011.

Millions of workers are under the cosh. Any group of workers standing up for themselves will be cheered on. For this reason the FBU's strike action will undoubtedly be popular, just like the strikes on the London Underground.

The employers' hard line on pensions is backed to the hilt by the government. Forcing a climb down requires sustained action. However the government are not as secure as they would like everyone to think. After years of austerity many workers across the public sector have had enough and are beginning to move into action.

The teachers in the NUT have named a date for strike action over pay. Workers in local government and the NHS will be balloted next month.

Doncaster Care UK workers are planning a week-long strike.

A united stand by public sector unions taking strike action together would press home their claims. What's more, this all shows that the mood is there and the need is definitely there for a 24-hour general strike that could shake this government to the core.

Come to the NSSN conference

National Shop Stewards Network conference

Saturday 5 July 11am-5pm in Conway Hall - 25 Red Lion Square, Holborn, London WC1R 4RL

What recovery? We want our share! Fight together for a pay rise!, twitter: NSSN_anticuts, e:

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In The Socialist 30 April 2014:

Socialist Party election campaigning

Vote for a working class voice

Getting under Labour's skin in Southwark

Your financial support is vital

Election Appeal: 2,148 raised so far

International socialist news and analysis

USA: reviving working class traditions

Ukraine: skirmishes threaten wider conflict

Socialist history

A South Wales miner remembers

International workers' day

May Day 2014 - Step up the fight for a socialist world!

May Day: Remembering Bob Crow and Tony Benn

May Day greetings in The Socialist 2014 - pdf

Socialist Party news and analysis

Cost of living crisis: Scrap zero-hour contracts!

UKIP - a pro-cuts party for the 1%

Them & Us

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

United against the far right in Brighton

Save Leicester Race Equality Centre

Fighting Library cuts in south Wales

Newsnight - socialist teacher demands right of reply

Why I joined the Socialist Party

Socialist Party workplace news

Defending pensions, jobs, pay, services... Back the strikes!

Workplace safety: It's big business as usual

Usdaw conference - fighting democratic union needed

Care UK strike: Miliband shows workers can't rely on Labour

Workplace news in brief


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