Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/382/4308
Hands off our pensions
Strike on the 23 March
THE SCENE is now set for a massive strike movement by workers in the public services.
It could start on 23 March with angry workers in local council depots, town hall buildings and government offices on strike over the concerted attacks on their pension rights.
The government is driving up the retirement age for many workers or forcing them to accept lower pensions.
They are looking enviously at the scandalous way that the private sector has introduced inferior pension schemes. With barefaced cheek, they also want employees to pay more into these schemes.
It has been calculated that by 2040 pensions would be 40% smaller if government ministers get away with this. They aim to save billions of pounds, at the cost of our pensions - our deferred pay.
As a civil service worker told Socialist Party members in Leicester at last week's TUC day of action:
"For years, the argument management used to get us to accept low pay deals is that we would receive a good pension. Now they are robbing us of all those pay rises."
The government is attacking all public-sector workers' pensions.
That's why the socialist has been arguing for a joint campaign, including strike action, by all unions in the public sector.
There are now ballots for strike action on 23 March in most local government unions, whose members' pension rights would be hit from 1 April, and in civil service union PCS. Other workers in the fire service and education are consulting members about taking action, possibly in April.
Strikes have far more impact than press releases, lobbies of Parliament and begging talks with government ministers.
The 18 February day of action clearly showed workers' anger at these attacks across the public-sector unions. The mood is there for decisive strike action, starting on 23 March.
As an FBU spokesman Bob Blackman told the rally in Sheffield:
"The government is intent on attacking the one thing people are looking forward to in their later years. It is a despicable and disgraceful act."
A general election is in the offing in Britain. New Labour and the Tories would dearly like to avoid any discussion on the future of our jobs, services and pension rights.
Strike action, followed by a clear campaign by the trade unions, could help focus public attention on the real issues facing working people of all ages.
Vote yes for action - strike together on 23 March.
In The Socialist 26 February 2005: