Friday, 20 April 2012

10 May strike can boost fight against pensions robbery

by Julie Sherry

Some 100,000 health workers in the Unite union will strike to defend pensions on 10 May and 290,000 civil service workers in the PCS union will join them. The Tories want to force millions of public sector workers to work longer, pay more into their pensions and get less when they retire. They made much of the “heads of agreement”—the so-called “final offer” on pensions negotiations—at the end of last year. But the government is refusing to budge on these three key attacks. Many workers are disappointed that union leaders haven’t called a national strike in the dispute since 30 November last year. But the mood is still there to fight—and 10 May is a chance to regain the momentum.

The PCS union’s national executive committee met on Tuesday of this week. It unanimously decided to join the strike on 10 May and to strike again in June. This opens the possibility of two mass public sector strikes in quick succession. Nipsa, Northern Ireland’s public sector workers’ union, could join the strike too. The UCU lecturers’ union has decided to strike alongside any other union that takes national action. Its national executive committee is set to meet later this month. And teachers in the NUT union are fighting to join the 10 May strike on a regional basis. This means that up to half a million workers could strike together. People want to keep fighting. But they also want a strategy to win.

The planned strike on 10 May could also boost health workers in Unison. They are currently voting on whether to accept the government’s heads of agreement, or reject it and back more strikes. Health workers in the GMB union are waiting for a promised consultation on the heads of agreement. Health workers in Unison in Scotland are continuing rolling strikes over pensions. Workers in the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Nursing have rejected the deal.

The government has already imposed increased pension contributions on workers. Workers in every union should take the chance to be part of the action. This fight is a beacon for everyone facing the Tories’ assault. Cameron and his cronies are embattled by scandal and crisis, they dread more strikes. They are vulnerable and mass action can stop them.
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