Workers demand pensions battle is stepped up

A Unison shop steward

Every Unison member at my workplace came out on strike on 30 November. They are all women workers on low pay and most of them had never taken strike action before. They were nervous about their decision but they felt that with the attacks on their pensions they had no choice and wanted to show solidarity with other striking workers.

The disappointment of these workers following 30 November, caused by the Unison leadership’s decision to do a deal with the government with no consultation or communication with their members, was painful to watch. It was difficult to know how to deal with it, but we continued to hold meetings to discuss the situation and keep everyone informed.

We were not involved in the strike on 10 May, but we had a meeting on that day. Using facts, figures and general information gathered from recent editions of the Socialist we discussed why it was important to fight the government’s attacks. We compared the lifestyles of the rich and poor in this country. I was also able to pass on an update of the strike activity from Socialist Party members on the picket lines.

Support other workers

We discussed how we could support workers taking action in other unions and send a message to Unison that we are not happy with their leadership. There was general agreement that we should vote to reject the proposals in the May ballot of Unison members because nothing had changed. We were still being asked to work longer, pay more and get less at the end.

We decided to continue to put pressure on Unison’s leadership by sending a letter expressing our dissatisfaction with the way we were being represented.

The discussion turned into one about politics in general and the nature of the three main political parties. The idea was expressed that Labour is no longer any different to the other parties, in which case what is the answer?

We talked about the problems of capitalism and how an alternative socialist society would work and two members took away copies of the Socialist.

We left the meeting feeling more informed and knowing that we could contribute in other ways to the struggle until we were in a position to join workers in taking action. We may not have been on strike on 10 May but we were still involved in the fightback!

Unison’s local government Service Group Executive (SGE) is meeting to discuss pensions on 31 May. Unison members should contact their rep on the SGE to tell them what you think.