Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/379/4270
All out to defend pensions
UNISON's NATIONAL industrial action committee has decided to conduct a strike ballot of local government members. The meeting, which I chaired, voted to ballot for strike action against the proposed changes in the local government superannuation scheme. This is a major step forward in the campaign to defend public sector pensions.
Roger Bannister, vice-chair UNISON industrial action committee, personal capacity
UNISON General Secretary election
For a union that fights pay and pension cuts
"UNISON MEMBERS deserve a better choice in this election than which Labour Party member becomes general secretary".
The local government scheme also covers workers outside local government. So UNISON's higher education service group are conducting a consultation exercise amongst members in the universities, some of whom are covered by the local government scheme. They may well also move towards balloting for industrial action.
We understand that other unions are considering joining in - TGWU, GMB, Amicus and UCATT. There's also a strong possibility that the PCS will be balloting as well.
So what we are witnessing or about to witness is the possibility of a major wave of strike action across the public sector. This fightback against New Labour's proposals to cut public sector pensions is in the run-up to a general election as well.
One of the reasons I'm standing in UNISON's general secretary election is to raise the profile of the trade union. Too many times up till now, UNISON has been punching below its weight when it's been dealing with the employers and with the New Labour government. Partly, I suspect, because too many of those at the top of the union are trying to build good relations with Blair and New Labour, rather than fighting for the union's members.
The pensions campaign shows that this is no longer an option as far as hundreds of thousands of UNISON members are concerned. They are determined to fight to defend the pension scheme and secure a decent income in their retirement. And they need a leadership which is worthy of their determination.
- Defeat the attacks on public sector pensions.
- Prepare for more action if the government refuses to retreat.
In The Socialist 5 February 2005: