Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/385/4349

From The Socialist newspaper, 19 March 2005

What we think

Anger turns to action over pensions

LOCAL GOVERNMENT and civil service workers have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action to defend their pensions. The ballot results show the deep welling up of anger against the New Labour government on this and many other issues.

Strike action on 23 March and afterwards could have a transforming effect on the outlook and confidence of British workers. This action could be the biggest strike for over 20 years and could be the beginning of British workers catching up with other workers across Europe in the scale and intensity of industrial struggle.

In local government the unions involved - UNISON, TGWU, Amicus and Ucatt - returned huge majorities for action - 73% to 87% voting in favour, with UNISON achieving a 26% turnout and the other unions around 20%.

Excellent majorities

The PCS civil service union also delivered an excellent and decisive majority of 66.7% for action on a turnout of 39%, reflecting the increased awareness that has been built up amongst PCS members through struggle and having a determined left-wing leadership.

The public-sector union in Northern Ireland, NIPSA, also voted overwhelmingly in favour of action.

Even the GMB union, which initially was not holding a ballot, voted for action in four regions. And the top civil servants in the First Division Association also voted for action - opening up the prospect of Sir Humphreys picketing Downing Street and other high-level government offices.

The National Union of Teachers has agreed to a national ballot for a national one-day strike after their indicative ballot showed 70% in favour of a one-day strike on a 26% turnout. Along with lecturers' union Natfhe, currently balloting with a view to action in April, it is possible that the NUT and other unions, including teachers and lecturers in Scotland could join them.

Many Socialist Party members active in the trade unions report an angry mood building in their workplaces. One member reported that in his 30 years of membership of the party and leading positions in his union that "the last week is perhaps the best I have ever spent as a union activist."

The pensions 'crisis' is becoming a catalyst for all the accumulated grievances built up against New Labour. Underlying all of this is a desire and realisation that workers should all come out together in strike action against the government.

Workers' anger

THIS GROWING momentum towards action has forced a government, who said increasing the retirement age was "non-negotiable", to scurry back to the negotiating table. Despite the talks between local government unions and Prescott breaking up without agreement, some union leaders proclaimed the ballot results as a mandate for "more talks to avert a pensions strike". As we go to press, further talks are scheduled.

The government is on the back foot on many issues at present and is looking increasingly ragged. Blair has talked about 'joined-up' government, but the only thing they are producing at present is 'joined-up' anger.

Workers will realise that this is a fantastic opportunity to force the government to fully retreat with all its pension plans for the public sector.

Whilst the unions could force the government to temporarily retreat in a negotiated settlement, there is only one way to achieve this. The unions must show they are mobilising the biggest possible show of strength for 23 March and that they are prepared to escalate the action, if necessary, in the run-up to the general election to ensure the government is forced to withdraw all its pension plans.

The unions should also organise a national demonstration on a Saturday in mid-April to mobilise private-sector workers, who have been especially hammered on pension rights, alongside public-sector workers who are taking action to make it the number one issue in the general election. The unions need to show that they are taking up the plight of all workers and fighting for a decent state pension.

Even if the government come up with some concessions or a more substantial retreat, union members will have to be made aware that this is the initial skirmish before a more protracted battle. In this battle the New Labour government (or a Tory government if it were to be elected) want to make huge cuts in public service provision and smash the terms and conditions and trade union organisation of public-sector workers.

The capitalist class have in their sights the savings of hundreds of billions on the issue of pensions and they will not let any government escape from this task for very long.

Public-sector unions have the responsibility of defending their own members first and foremost. But there is a growing realisation amongst trade union members, after the defeat of the firefighters for example, that whilst you have to be prepared to fight alone if necessary it is more effective to take action together.

The government's frightened response to the threat of a co-ordinated one-day public-sector strike action bears out the potential there is to inflict a real and lasting defeat on this weakened New Labour government.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 19 March 2005:

Blair's pensions climbdown

Pensions attacks: United action can win

Pensions - the socialist future

Why we voted to strike to defend pensions

Anger turns to action over pensions

Fight for a better future

What is socialism?

Iraq: troops out now

Iraq: occupation and the resistance

Bush and the 'democratic revolutions'

'Scary prospect' of US economic catastrophe

Massive strike in France

'Third World Debt' - who gains from Brown's plans?

Oppose Clarke's 'hideous experiment'

Good result for Roger Bannister

Building a new NUT leadership


 

Home   |   The Socialist 19 March 2005   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Pensions:

trianglePCS Broad Left Network conference

triangleArcadia and Debenhams closures: Nationalise to save jobs and pensions

triangleWhat will the spending review mean for me?

triangleFighting for over 250 jobs that are under threat at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff. Photo M Kamish

triangleTory think tank proposes attack on pensions

Unions:

triangleWhere's the road map to jobs and wages Boris?

triangleEffective testing and properly funded safety plan needed

triangleHow far can the Starmer counter-revolution go?

triangle

Equity union conference calls for radical change - now lead a fight!

Strike:

triangleHow militant trade unionism defeated the 1971 Industrial Relations Act

triangleGMB members continue fight against 'fire and rehire' in British Gas

triangleStrike back for free education

Public-sector:

trianglePCS: the real issues at stake

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

26/2/21

Labour

Liverpool Labour meltdown - Fight for socialist policies

24/2/21

Schools

Johnson's 'road map' for schools: Act together to protect safety

24/2/21

Uber

Drivers win case - they are workers

24/2/21

Covid

Where's the road map to jobs and wages Boris?

24/2/21

Labour

Starmer's speech a return to New Labour

24/2/21

Covid

Garment workers and Covid: Dying for less than minimum wage

24/2/21

Privatisation

Social care: End privatisation and let workers decide how it's run

24/2/21

Vaccine

Vaccine algorithm can't solve capitalist inequality

23/2/21

Britain

The struggle needs an electoral arm

17/2/21

NHS

NHS white paper: no solution to failed Tory policies

17/2/21

Covid

Covid workplace safety

17/2/21

Independence

SNP's independence referendum 2 'roadmap'

17/2/21

Socialist Students

Strike back for free education

17/2/21

Abortion

Tory consultation on home-use abortion pills

17/2/21

Fire

Tory cladding money will not make us safe

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: [email protected]

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

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


March 2021

February 2021

January 2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999