Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/382/4309

From The Socialist newspaper, 26 February 2005

What We Think

Pensions - force the government to retreat

IT LOOKS increasingly likely that up to one and a half million public-sector workers will take strike action on 23 March, in the biggest strike for over 20 years. This action will show the huge anger building up against the government's attempted pensions' robbery and its attacks on the welfare state.

New Labour is preparing the biggest ever assault on the public sector if they are returned to government after the election. They aim to save hundreds of billions, to end effective trade unionism in the public sector and further privatise enfeebled public services.

The pensions issue could begin to dominate the headlines with a general election rapidly approaching, despite the media ignoring it until now.

Balloting

All the local government unions, (excluding the GMB), began balloting their members last week, due to end around 9 March, on strike action against government proposals to raise the retirement age and reduce pension rights.

All the unions involved in strike action, and other unions, are "calling on the government to withdraw regulations scheduled to take effect from 1 April which, without consultation, raised the retirement age of all public-sector workers to 65" (UNISON press release).

And the biggest civil servants' union, PCS, has started a ballot of its members this week after the government told the union that other changes to the civil servants' occupational pension scheme might be negotiated but the retiring age increase was "not negotiable".

This clearly reveals where the government intends to make its savings of up to 15%-20% on retirement age costs and where it expects public-sector workers to make the most sacrifice.

Lecturers' union Natfhe is also balloting about strike action on 14 April. Other education unions, NASUWT and the NUT are consulting their members about taking action on the same day (after the Easter break). The firefighters are also consulting members over strike action.

Last week, facing the threat of such action, local government unions met deputy prime minister John Prescott and the local government employers (LGA). Union leaders hoped to find a negotiated settlement, acceptable to union members, which would have meant the withdrawal of the proposed changes due from 1 April, without strings.

At one stage Prescott told the unions he would agree to lift the new regulations if the LGA agreed that they would not increase council taxes to compensate for losing any savings resulting from the changes.

Since the last council elections in May 2004, the LGA is now Tory-controlled and this could have been an attempt by Labour to shift the blame onto the LGA and thereby the Tories, when any strike took place.

But the talks broke down, apparently because the employers demanded that the extra costs of retaining the current pension arrangements would have to be carried by workers suffering job losses or cuts in services.

Militant action

IT WAS the PCS strike action on 5 November last year against the announcement of 100,000 job losses in the civil service that broke the log jam of inactivity that was so pronounced amongst British union leaders.

British workers need to follow the militancy of the French workers in recent years in their battle against their government's attempts to cut the welfare state and attempts to increase the working week, rather than the right-wing union leaders' appeals to reason with the bosses.

Although union members know that they have to defend their own members' interests and may be prepared to fight alone if necessary, it is much better to fight together.

In order for the government to drop their plans altogether, it will require more than one-day strikes. Public-sector unions need to call a conference of union national executives to hammer out a programme of action on pensions, privatisation and job cuts.

Real plans must now be made for further action after 23 March. The council workers' "discontinuous" ballot means that they can take strike action again after Easter, allowing for pressure to be applied to other unions, such as the education unions and firefighters to come on board, if there is no movement from the employers.

A preparedness to use militant industrial action and the collective strength of union members, rather than press conferences or Parliamentary lobbies, is what is needed to force this government and the employers to retreat.

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


In The Socialist 26 February 2005:

Hands off our pensions

Pensions - force the government to retreat

Pensions: Our strength can stop this robbery

France: 24-hour general strike in the making

Russian pensioners put pressure on Putin

Fight low pay

Young workers: fight for your rights at work

Lecturers strike over pay

No to fire service cuts

Scottish Socialist Party conference report

Israeli/Palestinian conflict: A road to peace or to further conflict?


 

Home   |   The Socialist 26 February 2005   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Pensions:

triangleLecturers strike around country in defence of pensions

triangleBosses divided - university pension strikes can win!

triangleUni strike: coordinate public sector fightback

triangleRoyal Mail forced back under threat of action

triangleUniversity workers' walkout for decent pensions

Unions:

triangleNHS - build the fightback

triangleNHS we're ready to fight

triangleLocal government workers' reps reject 2% pay offer

triangleVictory for school cleaners!

Strike:

triangleGerman engineering strike puts shorter week on agenda - but could have won more

triangleNewham academies strike continues with three schools to strike together

triangleAfter 80 strike days Mears workers achieve victory

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

21/2/18

TUSC

Outrageous sentence for TUSC agent in 'misleading electors' court case

21/2/18

Tamil Solidarity

Facebook sides with state repression - reinstate the Tamil Solidarity page

21/2/18

Students

How can students and young people fight the Tories?

21/2/18

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland talks process paralysed

21/2/18

UKIP

Like rats from a sinking Ukip

21/2/18

Newham

Blairite mayor faces open election after democratic 'irregularities' - fight for a no-cuts mayor

21/2/18

NHS

Tories raid 1bn from NHS facilities budget - unions must act

19/2/18

Election

Usdaw victory - Socialist Party member Amy Murphy wins presidential election

14/2/18

Tamil Solidarity

Tamil youth march for justice

14/2/18

Foreign Aid

Oxfam scandal: we need democratic aid and working class solidarity

14/2/18

TUSC

Building support for Corbyn's anti-cuts policies in the local elections

14/2/18

EU

What we saw: Tory-Blairite EU love-in

14/2/18

Rents

Rent doubles in a decade: cap rents, build council homes!

14/2/18

Public ownership

McDonnell says Labour would put services 'irreversibly' in workers' hands

14/2/18

NHS

We can win the fight for the NHS

triangleMore News and socialist analysis 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

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

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

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


February 2018

January 2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999