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Pensions attacks: United action can win
"THIS IS the first time in my memory that so many workers in different trade unions have been involved in strike action over the same issue. Blair may think that he can 'tough it out' and gain electoral advantage. But he will learn that he is not dealing with just a pressure group, he is dealing with the organised working-class."
Roger Bannister, UNISON national executive committee
MEMBERS OF public- sector unions organising over one million workers voted in favour of strike action to defend pensions. This represents the biggest action of its kind in Britain for over 20 years.
Blair and Co imagine that the general election will be fought out with the Tories and Liberals by promising to cut back the jobs and conditions in the 'feather-bedded public sector'. They are in for a rude awakening. Their attacks have unleashed the long slumbering giant of the organised trade union movement.
The big votes in favour of striking demonstrate that, given a lead, workers will come together and fight back. It is no accident that the union with one of the highest turnouts in the ballot is the civil service union PCS. This union, under its socialist and left leadership, took strike action last year in defence of jobs.
Labour's electoral strategist, Alan Milburn, declared that the election will be mainly about "what's in it for me". In reality, it is only through collective mass action that workers can defend their own interests and therefore the interests of the working class as a whole.
This is just the beginning of a fightback. Public sector workers will be organising to escalate the action until the government backs down, drawing in private-sector workers and all those who believe that workers deserve a living pension.
The Socialist Party will also be continuing our campaign for the unions to begin the building of a new workers' party that can provide a political challenge to New Labour, the Tories and Liberals and their pro-big business, anti-working-class policies.
"MEMBERS IN PCS have shown they are determined to defend pensions, their jobs and public services. Our voice and the voice of hundreds of thousands of public-sector workers will not be ignored.
We deliver vital services across the UK and will not stand by and watch our conditions and pensions eroded.
Together we are strong."
Janice Godrich, President PCS
In The Socialist 19 March 2005: