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From The Socialist newspaper, 15 June 2011

Unison conference - No to pension attacks

A Unison member
Demonstration in Southampton by Unite and Unison against Tory attacks on terms and conditions and cuts in public services, photo by Dave Smith

Demonstration in Southampton by Unite and Unison against Tory attacks on terms and conditions and cuts in public services, photo by Dave Smith   (Click to enlarge)

Council workers are facing unprecedented attacks - in the form of massive job cuts and a tearing up of terms and conditions in many areas.

In just two weeks time it is expected that the government will announce their intention to impose a 3% increase in public sector pension contributions. This is a pay cut in real terms and comes on top of a two-year pay freeze. Unless defeated through mass strike action, many workers will be faced with the choice of pay up or be forced out of the pension scheme.

The government is also proposing a career average instead of final salary scheme. They plan to cut the local government pension from 1/60th of our annual salary to as low as only 1/100th and they want to make us work till we are 68.

These changes, if effected, could cost some workers up to 1,000 more a year for a pension worth nearly half of what they would get now.

Even some of the employers are panicking. They are predicting that 20-40% could leave the schemes, sending the funds into downward spirals.

If the government gets away with it, this would be the biggest attack on public sector workers' pay and conditions in a generation. That is why it requires the unions to use the full strength of the five million public sector trade unionists.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison has now declared that Unison will ballot over the summer or early autumn for strike action over pension attacks if the meeting with government on 28 June does not lead to a deal. Prentis also said: "It will not be one day of action - it will be long-term industrial action throughout all our public services to prevent destruction of our pension schemes."

This is to be welcomed by Unison members and other public sector trade unionists. This shows that trade union leaders can be forced to ballot for action, when faced with an onslaught of attacks from this government and growing anger from public sector workers.

The start of the fightback will come from the three quarters of a million workers in education and the civil service who are preparing to strike on 30 June.

Unfortunately Unison will not be taking action with other unions on 30 June but the union leaders are calling on all members to support the lobbies and demonstrations and for members not to cover the work of the strikers.

Only recently Socialist Party members on the Unison national executive tried to commit the union to action on pensions no later than 31 October 2011 but this was not agreed. At a local level there are Unison branches whose members are demanding to ballot for strike action against cuts. They are being prevented from doing so by the union leadership. These ballots should now immediately be sanctioned.

We must now give full backing to the 30 June strike and use it to build for an all public-sector strike that would rock this government to its foundations.

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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.

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In The Socialist 15 June 2011:


Fighting the cuts

Strike 30 June

Workers turn up the heat in Southampton

Customs & Revenue staff strike against attendance management policy

No cuts to English language classes!

Hands off our pensions!

Carmarthenshire council day club closure lobby


NHS news & campaigning

Tories make token changes - save the NHS

Con-Dem health plans ignore patients and staff

NHS "listening events" - Flip chart 'democracy'


National Shop Stewards Network

NSSN conference - serious and inspiring preparation for battles to come


Socialist Party news and analysis

Fighting anti-cuts meeting in Scotland hears socialist alternative

Child poverty increasing under the Con-Dems

Say no to government's slave labour programme

Winterbourne View - fight privatisation, end abuses

London 'Slutwalk' protest: Fight sexism, discrimination and cuts

News in brief

Dewsbury rejects racist EDL

To hell with for-profit education


Socialist Party feature

The growing housing scandal


Socialist Party workplace news

Tube drivers prepare to strike

Sheffield university strikers more determined

Unison conference - No to pension attacks

Unison NEC elections - left retakes lost ground


International socialist news and analysis

Austerity and anger in Greece


 

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Related links:

Unison:

triangleTrade union activists from across the south of England discuss the battle for safety on the frontline

triangleElectricians pay victory

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