How can the unions fight cuts?

  Working longer, paying more and getting a smaller pension is the prospect facing all public sector workers if we let the ConDem government get away their planned cuts.

At a time when workers have seen wages fall, national insurance contributions increase and raging inflation hit everything including basic food stuff, the millionaire cabinet is now telling us that our pensions are not affordable. But workers are not swallowing the lies. Independent economists have stated that the government figures are not adding up. Proof that the government is lying is clear from the fact that the additional £6.3bn that the Treasury hopes to raise by increasing workers’ contributions by 2014/15 is not going back into the pension scheme but is going straight to the Treasury to plug the £850bn hole in the coffers that was left by the bailout of the banks. Once again, we are paying for the bankers bonuses.

 

But cutting public sector pensions suits the government for another reason.

Diminished pensions will make it much cheaper for the private sector to take over public service jobs. This government has made no secret of the fact that they plan to make £81billion of cuts in the public sector and much of this will happen by destroying public services as they hand them over to their friends in private sector companies to make a profit. Despite the recession, the richest in Britain have seen their income increase by 18% and the gap between rich and poor is continuing to grow.

Big support for 30th June strike

The ConDem government has declared war and now the trade union movement must respond. A tremendous start has been made and a lead given by PCS, NUT, UCU and even the moderate ATL, whose 750,000 members took strike action on 30th June. This opening salvo brought schools, colleges and offices to a standstill and showed what is possible. Other unions have now begun their preparations for action in the Autumn.

NIPSA, the largest union in Northern Ireland, has begun consulting members over plans to join the proposed strike action. Responses so far indicate that members are almost unanimous in their support for action to defend pensions and services.

Lucia Collins, a member of NIPSA’s General Council has stated “In all the meetings that I have addressed, members have been more than willing to deliver a ‘yes’ vote for action”. The same picture is replicated in the Fire Brigades Union here. Jim Quinn, the FBU regional secretary, has stated that “Although our consultation is not complete, it is showing huge support for industrial action and the union is making preliminary arrangements for balloting members”.

24 hour united strike needed

The three largest unions in Britain; Unite, Unison and GMB must begin their campaigns in earnest. The date must be set for a 24 hour strike as the opening shot of industrial action. If workers see determination from their union leaders then we could see 4-5 million workers on strike against the government. Such action could be the beginning of the end of this millionaire government and would pose the need for a political alternative and for a government that supports workers and not just the rich.

 

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