Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 15 March 2007

Local government pensions

UNISON leaders lead members into dead end

ABOUT 900 UNISON members in local government met on 6 March to discuss the way forward on pensions. The conference met nearly a year after the national strike involving over one million public-sector workers.

Paul Hunt, Coventry UNISON and Annoesjka Valent, Hackney UNISON

The strike was a massive show of strength from union members and showed the huge anger that exists amongst local government workers - it should have been a solid platform to continue the action and force a retreat from the employer.

Unfortunately the UNISON leadership called off further strikes, recommending further talks and seeking a judicial review.

The conference only took place after the Kirklees branch mobilised other branches to demand it. It was polarised around two composite motions. One was from the Local Government Service Group Executive (SGE), which praised the handling of the dispute and called for negotiations to continue.

Key issues

But key issues have not been resolved, such as lifetime protection, contribution rates for part-time workers and changes on the ill health proposals. In moving this motion, SGE chair Jean Geldart stated: "We are not going to get everything we ask for ...and we have to act like a mature trade union." A more cowardly position would be hard to imagine.

In moving the opposition motion (Composite C), which condemned the mishandling of the dispute and pointed out that key issues have not been resolved, Paul Holmes of Kirklees branch, pointed out that a year ago we had the government on its knees and that we had been in a position of strength.

The motion called for an immediate strike ballot and an escalating programme of national action, and for the dispute to be run by an elected strike committee.

Glenn Kelly from Bromley branch, pointed out that if the employers' proposal was so good, why hadn't the SGE come out recommending acceptance today? He pointed out that it was 10 years to the day that the leadership then had said that the Single Status Agreement would be a good deal!

Glenn said the UNISON leadership's approach was cowardice dressed up as democracy. Under the current proposals, a member under the age of 45 would be faced with either losing £1,000 a year or more off their pension or losing £15,000 or more off their lump sum, or they could work an extra two years to get the same benefit.

Roger Bannister from Knowsley branch pointed out that when the pensions dispute began, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis had said we were worth the same as other public-sector workers who had won full protection. So why weren't we getting the same?

The link between New Labour and the UNISON leadership meant calling off further strike action to avoid embarrassing the Labour Party.

Contributions like these reflected the real anger in the workplaces - which is probably why supporters of the leadership resorted to blatant red-baiting.

One speaker from Manchester accused the supporters of composite C as: "Wanting to use members' money to have a Trotfest". These attacks were answered by one female delegate from Bradford who simply declared: "I'm not a Trot, not a left-winger, this is about wanting justice."

The SGE motion was carried by around a margin of 60-40 on a show of hands.

Understandably, some activists were genuinely concerned that it would be impossible to mobilise the members again for more strike action after a year of inactivity and that we just had to take what was on offer.

But as the Socialist Party conference bulletin pointed out, we can't guarantee that our members will vote for action but if we do nothing we will never win full protection. The danger is now that our weakness will invite aggression from the government.

This is not like a pay dispute where we can come back for more the next year - once pension entitlements have gone, we will have to live with the consequences.

UNISON's leadership has led our members into a dead end. On pensions, Single Status and the NHS, we have come under attack from the government, so many members are asking why is it that UNISON continues to give financial and political support to the Labour Party?

The time has long been ripe for UNISON to break the link with Labour and look at how best to fight on both the industrial and political fronts. We need a union that is democratic, militant and prepared to fight.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 15 March 2007:

£billions for rich... Pennies for us!

Minimum wage insult

Socialist Party NHS campaign

UNISON Health group votes for summer demo

Hewitt's 'day of exchange'

Socialist Party news and analysis

Fighting the cuts in Camden

Lambeth council attacks services for vulnerable people

Barking BNP don't oppose council cuts

Lewisham council's outrageous attack

Kurdish asylum seekers living in fear

Northern Ireland and Scotland

Northern Ireland Assembly elections: Another sectarian headcount...

We Won't Pay Campaign conference success

Solidarity builds party profile ahead of elections

Marxist analysis: history

February revolution 1917 - what lessons for today?

International socialist news and analysis

US continues threats over Iran's nuclear ambitions

Iraq war: Convicted Bush official is 'fall guy' over WMD scandal

International Women's Day

Celebrating International Women's Day


Tenants vote no to council housing sell-off

Market-driven 'social housing' threatens tenants

Environment and socialism

Will government plans stop climate change?

Socialist Students

Build the campaign to defeat fees

International Socialist Resistance (ISR) and Socialist Students conference

Campaign for a New Workers Party

Trade Unions and the Labour Party: CWU branch asks some awkward questions

Campaign for a New Workers' Party conference

Workplace news and analysis

Reinstate Dave Condliffe now

UNISON leaders lead members into dead end

SOUTHAMPTON council strike

PCS prepares for more struggles

Right wins lecturers' union leadership - on a 14% turnout


Home   |   The Socialist 15 March 2007   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleLeicester: Blairites block Labour Party democracy

triangleLeaked pay deal: fight for a genuine pay rise

triangleFCC Environment strike solid

triangleThreat of action defeats pay cut at Surrey council

triangleUnison national women's conference


triangleStrike continues: set dates for next national action

triangleUCU strike: bosses on the run

triangleNational lecturers' pension strike continues

triangleUniversity bosses rocked - strikes can save staff pensions!

Local government:

triangleZero new homes 'affordable' in Blairite Manchester

triangleBristol anti-cuts campaigners debate alternatives to the cuts

triangleLocal government workers' reps reject 2% pay offer


triangleSpain: millions on streets against sexism and capitalist oppression

triangleDetermined UCU strikers: We're out to win!


triangleLabour councillors push through savage cuts in Kirklees budget

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



Refugee Rights campaigners on the 17.3.18 anti-racism demo - pics


Socialist Party

Socialist Party congress 2018



Strike continues: set dates for next national action


Socialist Party

Members dig deep into their pockets to support the party


North West

Campaigners continue to demand Chorley A&E is fully reopened



Swansea Labour council votes for cuts



Derby public meeting: Women's Lives Matter



Seeing-off the bigoted, billionaire toff!



Continuing the fighting tradition of working class women



Workplace news in brief



Leicester: Blairites block Labour Party democracy



Leaked pay deal: fight for a genuine pay rise



We feel that we will win - a striker speaks



Woolwich ferry workers win automation campaign



UCU strike: bosses on the run

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0191 421 6230

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551



Alphabetical listing

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018