Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/13317
Support Unilever workers' fight to defend pensions
National Union of Teachers local rep and Socialist Party member Chris Parton was well received by Unilever workers on strike today in Burton-on-Trent when he visited their picket line to pass on a message of support from the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) in Staffordshire.
The Unilever Unite rep knew of the growing reputation of the NSSN and allowed Chris to speak to a group of workers.
Chris stressed "the importance of uniting both public and private sector workers if we are to win our struggles to defend our pensions".
Unilever is planning a massive attack on its workers' pensions by closing down its final salary pension scheme that its long-serving staff have worked hard for.
Unite says: "Shutting down the scheme will wash the retirement plans of 5,000 workers down the drain - one worker has already estimated he will lose a massive £150,000 from his pension pot if he lives for just 15 years after he retires!".
This attack is taking place as Unilever announced an increase in pre-tax profits at the beginning of 2011 up to a massive £5.2 billion!
But Unilever workers' fightback, through their trade unions, Unite, Usdaw and GMB has now started with their first ever national strike action.
This government wants to divide workers over pensions by pitting public against private sector but all workers' pensions are under attack.
We need to build links between public and private sector workers to stop the attacks on all pensions. We need to fight together!
It's vital that the TUC names a date for the next public sector general strike action, to take place by the end of January.
Already Unison Scotland has voted unanimously for a further day of coordinated action on 25 January 2012.
If Unilever does not back down over its attacks on pensions, then Unite, GMB and Usdaw at Unilever could coordinate their next strike action with that of public sector workers.
NSSN activists have an important role to play by getting resolutions passed in their union branches and with petitions etc, to put pressure on our union leaders to organise further coordinated strike action to include private sector workers where possible.
You can also support Unilever workers as they battle against this attack on pensions by:
Email your message of support to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Send a protest letter or email to Unilever to stop these pension changes:Paul Polman, Unilever PLC London, PO Box 68, Blackfriars, London EC4P 4BQ
There were around 40 people on the picket line at Unilever Trafford Park this morning supporting the strike against the company's plans to force a move from a final salary pension scheme to one based on a career average salary.
Pickets talked about Unilever's huge profits and how its greed has forced them into industrial action for the first time in 80 years.
Sheena Mitchell, senior Unite steward said: "We were promised in 2008 that Unilever would keep our final salary pension scheme with increased contributions.
"There is no need to do this. It's just pure corporate greed".
Pickets spoke of their desire to coordinate any future action with that of public sector workers fighting to protect their pension.
Representatives from West Cheshire TUC joined Unite pickets at Unilever's IT facility in Ewloe, North Wales.
Chair of West Cheshire TUC, Kenny Cunningham, reports: "Despite being one of the sites with a lower proportion of unionisation, local Unite members put on a great show.
"A picket of around 20 received a good response from passing cars, distributed leaflets explaining their case and made a clear stand in defence of themselves and their fellow workers.
"The presence of Unite national and regional organisers underlined the union's commitment to winning this battle".