Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/702/13571

From The Socialist newspaper, 25 January 2012

Public sector pensions: 'Coalition of the willing' gathering strength

Martin Powell-Davies, NUT executive, personal capacity
30 November 2011 public sector strike, photo by Paul Mattsson

30 November 2011 public sector strike, photo by Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

In the immediate aftermath of the TUC-led retreat over pensions, the 'coalition of the willing', those unions still determined to fight on, have needed time to regroup. But now that coalition is gathering strength.

Over Christmas, the danger of isolation and concerns that members might no longer be prepared to take action understandably weighed heavily on union leaders. The PCS Left Unity Conference on 7 January helped to swiftly galvanise union activists and a call was made for union leaders to meet to agree a coordinated action plan. The NUT is now convening exactly such a meeting with a number of other unions already pledged to attend.

The decision by Unite to reject the Heads of Agreement has helped bolster confidence, as has the action taken by private-sector Unilever workers in defence of their pension schemes. It now seems likely that the FBU may also need to ballot for strike action with the government apparently insistent on an unworkable scheme where firefighters work until they are 60 and pay at least 13.2% of their salary in pension contributions.

The growing confirmation of support for action in the workplace is helping to reassure union leaderships that they can securely call further strikes. NUT members have been meeting to agree motions pledging support for action as well as responding to a national email survey. Just like the BMA's separate survey of doctors, it seems likely that the results will confirm clear opposition to the deal.

Of course, nothing can be taken for granted. In the build-up to further strikes, unions need to campaign hard in every workplace and community to build the strongest support for action.

No worker can lightly lose pay but most will be willing to do so if unions show they are serious about continuing the campaign. After all, if we don't carry on the fight, we're guaranteed to be losing pay every single month in higher pension contributions.

Unions now need to agree a clear plan of coordinated action. At least a further day of national strike needs to be called before April, when the first phase of increased pension contributions is to be imposed. Unions also need to make clear that this isn't just a 'last hurrah' but part of an ongoing campaign to force the government to retreat further. It could coincide with a ballot of Unison members, giving them confidence to demand further action of their leadership as J30 did for N30.

The lecturers' union UCU executive, at its meeting on 20 January, became the latest union to formally reject the Heads of Agreement. It also proposed that a programme of coordinated rolling strike action should begin in February, with Thursday 1 March proposed as a day for national strike action.

Strikers on the 30 June 2011 (J30) public sector strike, photo by Paul Mattsson

Strikers on the 30 June 2011 (J30) public sector strike, photo by Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

This is a useful starting point for discussion between unions although the exact details may need to change - particularly as Welsh teachers have pointed out that clashing with long-prepared events for St David's Day would not be popular.

There is certainly a pressing need for the joint-union discussions to arrive at a firm date for the next coordinated action. NUT divisional secretaries from branches across England and Wales are being called to an emergency national meeting on 2 February to discuss the campaign.

Hopefully, when the PCS executive meets again on 9 February and the UCU executive on 10 February, we will all be in a position to announce a common plan of action.

While it will be important to negotiate over the dates so as to bring the strongest possible alliance together, it would be a mistake to postpone a decision in order to try and bring unions like Unison and GMB on board at this stage. A strong campaign is being waged inside health and local government unions in opposition to the 'Heads of Agreement' but, even if it eventually succeeds, it will be several months before these unions could be brought back into action.

Joint-union staff meetings and local trades councils should organise debates so that the real facts about the Heads of Agreement can be explained - so that everyone understands that it means 'pay more, get less and retire older'.

However, a significant joint-union strike in March, even if on a smaller scale than November, will be the best way to support those arguing to reverse the position of unions who have signed up to the shabby 'deal'.

Above all, that united action will send a clear signal to the government that they still face strong and determined opposition to their pensions robbery.

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


In The Socialist 25 January 2012:


Anti-cuts campaign

Hard Times - but not for the 1%


Socialist Party editorial

The trade unions and Labour

Add your name to the TUSC petition

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition election conference


Socialist Party news and analysis

Public sector pensions: 'Coalition of the willing' gathering strength

Financial vultures kill Peacocks

Con-Demned to unemployment

Fight the Tories' Welfare Reform Bill

Victory against Dorries' abstinence education bill

Keep the racist EDL out of Leicester

Them & Us


Education

Haringey parents say: No to academies!

NUS calls national student walkout


Socialist Party feature

Balfour Beatty re-ballot: Vote to strike again

Sweetheart stitch-ups in the electrical industry: A spark's history of the Joint Industry Board

Exposed - the dirty world of the construction blacklist


International socialist news and analysis

Egypt - A year of revolution and counter-revolution


Socialist Party workplace news

Stepping up the action to defend pensions at Unilever

Defend Len Hockey: Outrageous attack on Whipps Cross hospital workers

Pontefract hospital: Army withdrawn - now kick out PFI!

Save Vine services

Llanelli: Save Prince Philip's A&E

Stop the Salford day centre closures

Kirklees parents say 'save our children's centres!'

Greenwich Unite members oppose cuts, privatisation and racism

Workplace news in brief


 

Home   |   The Socialist 25 January 2012   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Pensions:

triangleUCU ballots - yes to strike action on pensions, pay, workloads and equality

triangleStop the latest Tory attack on our pensions

triangleThe Socialist inbox

triangleTories prepare to attack education workers' pensions

triangleScottish airport strikes - fight for better pay and pensions

Public sector:

trianglePCS elections: Support socialist candidates

triangleProbation privatisation failure

trianglePCS: Vote Yes to strike for better pay

triangleTrade union action to end low pay now!

Unions:

triangleUnions must fight to make bus drivers and passengers safe

triangleMoney doesn't make up for cuts - education unions must organise for funding and against Tory attacks

triangleHarland and Wolff occupation

Union:

triangleScotland and Brexit: Developing threat to the capitalist union

triangleClimate strikes: trade union round-up

Strike:

triangleFrimley hospital staff fight back-door privatisation

Pension:

triangleStriking workers defy the race to the bottom at Glasgow and Aberdeen airports

Government:

trianglePCS strike at BEIS: "The life we live is not liveable"

Martin Powell-Davies:

triangle40 years after Three Mile Island disaster

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

11/9/19

Scotland

Scotland and Brexit: Developing threat to the capitalist union

11/9/19

General election

Tory meltdown - Organise to finish them off

6/9/19

Government

Tories in tatters: Corbyn must seize the time

4/9/19

Demonstration

Marches, blockades, strikes, occupations... How can protests win?

4/9/19

Socialist Party

Dozens of protests say Boris must go - Socialist Party policies heard on TV

4/9/19

Retail

What strategy can end the retail jobs massacre?

4/9/19

Wales

Austerity anger feeds movement for Welsh independence

4/9/19

Bury

Bury expelled from football league: Boot out the bosses ruining our game

4/9/19

Education

Money doesn't make up for cuts - education unions must organise for funding and against Tory attacks

3/9/19

Government

Tories out now - Corbyn in with socialist policies

28/8/19

Labour

Boot out Boris and all the Tories

28/8/19

Northern Ireland

Brexit and the border in Northern Ireland - will there be a return to the 'Troubles'?

28/8/19

RMT

Interview with Sean Hoyle - left candidate in RMT general secretary election

28/8/19

World economy

Imperialist tensions escalate as world economy teeters

28/8/19

Child abuse

Notts child abuse scandal: Socialist Party demands action programme to prevent future cases

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: 0784 114 4890

North West 07954 376 096

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


September 2019

August 2019

July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999