Socialist Worker

Prospect conference moves to the left

by Simon Hester
Issue No. 2257

The looming showdown on public sector pensions dominated last week’s one-day conference of the Prospect union’s civil service sector.

The debates highlighted the contradictory pressures in play.

On the one hand Dai Hudd, the deputy general secretary who has led Prospect’s pension negotiating team, justified the union’s strategy.

He said, “We have to go the extra mile. We have to make every effort to negotiate a settlement.”

He added, “I was originally thinking that the chances of an acceptable solution were no more than 80:20 but the chances have improved, to about 65:35.”

He described the government offers so far as “totally unacceptable” but expected talks to continue until July.

The intervention of Danny Alexander, the Lib Dem treasury minister, was clearly unexpected.

He announced the government’s pensions changes in an interview—before talks have concluded.

Hudd and others attacked him for putting the negotiations in jeopardy.

But there was strong resolve among delegates—if talks break down Prospect is committed to industrial action.

And a motion calling for a coordinated strike across the public sector—the only motion that explicitly called for industrial action—was passed unanimously.

It was backed by the sector executive and officials.

A sub-plot was Prospect’s attitude to PCS. Coded criticism was heard all day.

Prospect wants “like‑minded” civil service unions to replace the collapsed Council of Civil Service Unions and sideline the PCS, the biggest union.

But a motion calling on Prospect members not to do PCS members’ work on 30 June was passed unanimously.

Prospect’s strategy of negotiations at all costs is under pressure—caught between an intransigent government and growing public sector resistance.

It is likely that Prospect will ballot for action over pensions in September.

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Tue 21 Jun 2011, 18:00 BST
Issue No. 2257
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