Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/432/5075
How to win the battle to defend pensions
THE LOCAL government union leaders have, in effect, conceded that any changes in the pension scheme will be to the detriment of future workers. These same union leaders kept council workers separate from the unions representing civil servants, teachers and health workers who, despite this breakdown in unity, forced the government to keep full pension rights for existing workers.
The local government union leaders are now trying desperately to get at least the same as everyone else.
The unions originally said that they would have a two-day strike on 28 and 29 March.
The fact that this has been reduced arbitrarily to one day without consultation with the workers is not a good sign.
The UNISON leaders' plans seem to be to follow the strike up with regional one-day strikes (in London one day, the north-west the following day for example).
There is then talk of selective action by key groups of workers, with a £5 per week voluntary levy of the rest of the membership. This would then be followed up with a two-day national strike in May, coinciding with the local council elections on 4 May.
Given the track record of the union leaders who will take fright at a hostile press, there will be a maximum need for the left in the union to keep the pressure up on the leadership.
There should be rallies and marches on strike days. There should be opposition to the idea that selective action is the way forward - this should be no more than an auxiliary to the national strikes.
The local government unions should demand that the TUC gives them maximum support, starting with organising a national demonstration on pensions, including those in the private sector and the Pensioners' Convention.
If the TUC keeps dragging its feet, then the eleven local government unions should call their own demo and invite others to participate. There must be a clear signal that the unions will not back down.
In The Socialist 23 March 2006: