Pensions – turn anger into action!

MEMBERS OF public-sector union UNISON, who work for local councils
throughout the country, are overwhelmingly voting for industrial action to
defend their pensions. This follows the government’s claim that public-sector
workers are living too long and should therefore have their pension rights

Bill Mullins

UNISON members have just finished an indicative ballot. That will now be
followed by an industrial action ballot in February, with a view to possible
strike action in the week beginning 21 March. Other public-sector unions are
under increasing pressure to give a lead and organise their own ballots with a
view to uniting the struggles.

So, is there a chance of coordinated public-sector strike action to defend

Public-sector unions met last to week to discuss the TUC day of action on
18 February, called in protest at the threat to public-sector workers’

But what was missing from that meeting was any serious move to unite
public-sector workers through strike action. Instead, we are told that 18
February will be restricted to regional events and "protests to your local

If the 18 February activities were part of a campaign to get support
amongst public-sector workers and throughout the working class for future
strike action that would be a legitimate tactic. But, unfortunately, we have
been down this path many times before. For the union leaders to be forced into
decisive action and co-ordinate strike action to defeat the attacks, they
still need the maximum pressure from below.

New Labour has got away with massive attacks and privatisation of the
public sector in the past because unions were not prepared to co-ordinate
millions of workers in strike across the public sector. The unifying effect of
the attack on pension rights, which may seem on the surface to affect "only"
older workers, has been rightly seen as a step too far by much wider sections
of workers.