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From The Socialist newspaper, 5 March 2005

United action to defend pensions

Strike on 23 March

PUBLIC SECTOR workers' anger at the government's attack on their pensions is growing.

New Labour wants to force everyone to work longer and pay more for a lower pension. This is while MPs have made sure of a handsome increase in their own pensions.

New Labour has launched these attacks when the average pension for local government workers is a pitiful 3,800 a year. 55% of pensioners in Britain rely on means-tested benefits to get by and pensioners still die of cold every year in this rich country. So we can't afford any cuts.

Reports are coming in to the socialist of campaign meetings being held where not one union member has voted against strike action.

Action

Civil service union PCS members in previously 'moderate' workplaces like the Ministry of Defence have been demanding action.

Even senior managers in local government are joining UNISON - they see the need for trade union action to defend their pensions. After all, judges protected their pensions by threatening to strike!

Local government workers are so angry, that even the idea of boycotting work in the polling stations and counts in the general election has been raised in more than one UNISON meeting.

Action, far from putting people off, as the right-wing in the trade union movement try to claim, has attracted more workers in to the trade unions to fight for their rights.



"It's better to fight with the majority"

Adrian O'Malley, branch chair of UNISON's Wakefield and Pontefract hospitals branch told the socialist.

"Millions of public sector workers should be taking industrial action in the run-up to a general election.

 Even if we get the attacks on our NHS pensions delayed, our members know they'll come for us later on, so it's better to fight with the majority

They're proposing the same for the NHS as the local government attacks, with a slightly different timescale.

They say it's out for consultation but we know what they're going to conclude. Everybody knows what New Labour's consultation means.

All the consultation does is conveniently drag things out until after the general election. What our union leaders are doing is delivering health workers on a plate after the election so as not to cause any political embarrassment to New Labour.

But we don't represent New Labour, we represent UNISON members.

On the TUC day of action there was a lot of different unions out. In Wakefield we had two UNISON health branches and the Prison Officers Association, the PCS and the Fire Brigades Union. It shows the mood for united action is there."

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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.
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In The Socialist 5 March 2005:

United action to defend pensions

UNISON leaders vote not to ballot on NHS pensions

Let's have a decent minimum wage!

New Labour - guilty of destroying democratic rights

Can the Tories really win?

Socialist Party election campaign launched

Socialist Party national council report

Troops out of Iraq

Can George Bush's second-term offensive be defeated?

Protests force government resignation in Lebanon

Tsunami relief - the failure of capitalism

International Women's Day: Fighting the system that exploits us

United student campaign attacked in Israel

Northern Ireland: Horrific murder enrages local community


 

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