The Socialist 18 April 2012
Strike on 10 May! Vote TUSC on 3 May!
Health service pensions - reject the deal - coordinated action needed
The 2012 Unison Health Care Service Group Conference will take place from 23-25 April 2012 in Brighton. The conference comes in the middle of the Unison ballot on pensions in the health service and during the service group executive elections which end on 18 May.
This pensions deal should be decisively rejected. On 30 November many health service workers took strike action as part of the two-million-strong public sector strike in a tremendous show of defiance. This demonstration of anger and frustration was not only against the increase in the retirement age and paying more for a smaller pension but against the continuous reorganisations, job losses, the Health and Social Care Act and £20 billion in brutal so-called efficiency savings, really cuts.
Disgracefully, instead of building on this magnificent action and continuing to work alongside those public sector unions who reject the deal, our Unison leadership decided to halt any further action.
This is despite the fact that the government was not prepared to discuss any concessions.
This government is determined to drive down our wages, terms and conditions, having recently announced that they are in favour of introducing regional pay.
As staffing costs represent 70% of their budgets, they say they have no choice but to either cut services or attack our pay and conditions to meet the £20 billion 'savings' target. But, according to the press, the NHS chiefs have said after this they are looking at another £20 billion of cuts!
Because of the political consequences of cuts in services, they are much more likely to cut staff pay and working conditions. If we don't defend our pensions it will give the green light to this government of the rich to attack our other rights and conditions.
It is clear that we need a strong union. We must reject the argument that any cuts are necessary - just look at the amount lost to the public purse through tax avoidance, mainly by the rich - £120 billion annually!
Taking all the privatised services back in-house would mean the NHS wasn't subsidising the fat profits of the contractor companies.
We face another year with no pay rise and then two further years of an imposed pay rise of 1%. We cannot trust this government of millionaires, only interested in allowing their rich friends and families to get even richer, and making working people pay for it.
Unison, as the largest public sector union, must reject this deal and start to coordinate united industrial action with the other unions rejecting the deal.
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