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From The Socialist newspaper, 28 July 2005

Unions prepare for new pension attacks

THE THREAT of united strike action before the general election forced the Labour government to back down temporarily on its plans to cut public-sector workers' pension rights - particularly the planned increase in the retirement age from 60 to 65.

Bill Mullins

Since then the unions involved in public-sector pension schemes have been meeting together under the umbrella of the Public Service Forum. (The joint trade union, government and employers' forum that is negotiating on the future of public-sector pension schemes).

At the first meeting of the Public Service Forum at the beginning of July, the government made clear its position: "You are living too long. Private-sector workers are being attacked so why shouldn't public-sector workers be? And public-sector workers are not low paid!"

Union leaders must put their members on a war footing if we are to defeat the attacks permanently.

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) is proposing to put the following resolution to the TUC conference this September:

"Congress congratulates the public-sector unions on their willingness to take united action against the government's proposed imposition of a compulsory rise in the pension age to 65. We welcome the government's subsequent acceptance that all aspects of the proposals will be open to genuine negotiation. However, Congress believes that the government will continue to argue strongly for the pension age to increase. We believe that to defend our members' interests it will be necessary to maintain and enhance the public-sector campaign alliance and to organise together for maximum pressure should further united industrial action prove necessary. To that end, Congress calls on the General Council and Executive Committee to:

This resolution in our view points the clearest way forward. In particular it calls for the united front of all unions against the government, so clearly demonstrated in practice before the general election, should be maintained.

A national demonstration in defence of public-sector pensions, involving tens of thousands of workers, would be a beacon to all workers - in the public and private sectors. UNISON members should be aware that a similar policy calling for a national demo was carried at their recent conference. But UNISON's national executive have ignored this in their TUC resolution on pensions.

This is a clear warning that some union leaders, despite the rhetoric, do not want to stir things up with a national demonstration. They are hoping for a cosy deal with New Labour.

Now the general election is out of the way, Blair and Brown see no reason to keep the union leaders sweet. As Blair said immediately after the election, they are intent on pursuing "an unremitting New Labour policy for the public sector".

This can only mean more privatisation, more attacks on jobs and pay and more attacks on pension rights. We have been warned.

All union activists should demand that their union gets behind the PCS resolution at the TUC conference and prepare for a mighty united struggle against New Labour in defence of pension rights.

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In The Socialist 28 July 2005:

Workers' unity against war and terrorism

Repression won't prevent terrorism

Jean Charles de Menezes: Angry marchers demand justice

Tube drivers say safety is paramount

Workers' unity needed against war, terror and racism

Book your stalls for the Freshers' fairs now!

Book now for Summer Camp

Brazil: Lula government in crisis

Fighting the low pay scandal

Unions prepare for new pension attacks

Strike ballot to defend Rolls Royce convenor


 

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