Socialist Worker

Militant methods can win these strike votes

by Yuri Prasad
Issue No. 2271

How people lose with the pension changes

How people lose with the pension changes

Union leaders are giving workers the go-ahead to use “any means necessary” to win a massive strike vote in the battle for public sector pensions.

Senior activists in the Unison union say that they have been told to organise “as many meetings as possible” and to ensure that “nothing gets in the way” of victory.

Joint meetings, involving activists from different unions, are now on the cards in councils and hospitals across Britain.

And union full-timers, who often block action, have been instructed to “get out and talk to the members”, rather than trying to stifle those who can help win the vote.

The spirit of activism has already reached Northern Ireland, where thousands of public sector workers are preparing to strike against cuts next week.

Tommy Steenson, chair of Belfast City Hospital Unison, told Socialist Worker that the coming action “was like nothing seen here since the early 1980s”.

“Unison has almost 8,000 members in this city and we’re striking for 24 hours on Wednesday of next week.

“We plan to be out on 30 November alongside everyone taking action over pensions.

“Given the level of cuts we are facing, this action couldn’t come a minute too soon. In fact, I think we should have done this three years ago.”

Tommy says that union activists cannot take anything for granted, and that the key to getting successful action will be convincing ordinary members.

“We’re in a whole new ball game and we’re pulling out all the stops over the next week to make the union effective,” he says. “That means lots of section meetings and stewards’ meetings too.”

The announcement that millions of public sector workers will strike, coming from the TUC conference earlier this month, continues to reverberate through the movement.

“The call for united strikes has really lifted people’s spirits,” says Unite union convenor, Brett Davis.


“I’ve addressed lots of section meetings on the pensions issue at the Ministry of Defence where I work. I think I’ve spoken to more than 200 people so far.

“The idea that we’ll be fighting alongside so many others really enthuses people.”

Every activist in the unions that are balloting needs a plan to win the biggest yes vote. That means working with others to ensure meetings, leafleting, stunts and protests.

Workers in unions that are not balloting must play a part too.

Everyone can join local demonstrations, pickets and meetings. We can spread the feeling of solidarity so that more unions are drawn into battle.

The more workers are involved in the build-up to the strikes, the better the discussion will be of what further action we will need.

Read about last week's council strikes. Council strikers' wake up call for Shrewsbury , Birmingham council strikers rain on Clegg’s parade and Council workers strike in Doncaster

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