Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/809/18530
Defending pensions, jobs, pay, services...
Back the strikes!
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!
www.shopstewards.net, twitter: NSSN_anticuts, e: firstname.lastname@example.org
In The Socialist 30 April 2014:
Socialist Party election campaigning
International socialist news and analysis
International workers' day
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Socialist Party workplace news