Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/378/4256
Pensions - turn anger into action!
MEMBERS OF public-sector union UNISON, who work for local councils throughout the country, are overwhelmingly voting for industrial action to defend their pensions. This follows the government's claim that public-sector workers are living too long and should therefore have their pension rights cut!
UNISON members have just finished an indicative ballot. That will now be followed by an industrial action ballot in February, with a view to possible strike action in the week beginning 21 March. Other public-sector unions are under increasing pressure to give a lead and organise their own ballots with a view to uniting the struggles.
So, is there a chance of coordinated public-sector strike action to defend pensions?
Public-sector unions met last to week to discuss the TUC day of action on 18 February, called in protest at the threat to public-sector workers' pensions.
But what was missing from that meeting was any serious move to unite public-sector workers through strike action. Instead, we are told that 18 February will be restricted to regional events and "protests to your local MP".
If the 18 February activities were part of a campaign to get support amongst public-sector workers and throughout the working class for future strike action that would be a legitimate tactic. But, unfortunately, we have been down this path many times before. For the union leaders to be forced into decisive action and co-ordinate strike action to defeat the attacks, they still need the maximum pressure from below.
New Labour has got away with massive attacks and privatisation of the public sector in the past because unions were not prepared to co-ordinate millions of workers in strike across the public sector. The unifying effect of the attack on pension rights, which may seem on the surface to affect "only" older workers, has been rightly seen as a step too far by much wider sections of workers.
In The Socialist 29 January 2005: