The Unite union has rejected the government’s pensions agreement for health workers.
A meeting of its health sector national industrial committee voted unanimously today (Thursday) to reject the “heads of agreement”—the government’s so-called “final offer” on pensions negotiations.
Committee members, including Unite’s leading activists in the NHS, were very clear about their anger at the shoddy deal on offer.
One summed up mood of meeting—saying “It’s a rubbish deal, it always was and it still is. This is about our integrity. We’ve got to fight”. Another said, “We’re not being offered anything. Let’s get on with further action and not sit around talking’.
There was anger at the government’s bullying tactics—the fake deadlines, the threats that if their attacks weren’t accepted then something worse would be imposed, and the threats to exclude the union from negotiations.
“The government has tried to put a gun to our heads. We have to put a gun to their heads and take further action,” said one activist. Another added, “If you allow yourself to be bullied, the bully will smack you in the face again and again and again.”
Another talked about the clear mandate from the union’s members. He said that the government still expects workers to pay more, work longer and get less—so the mandate for action remained and it wasn’t the committee’s job to overturn it.
There was disappointment that other NHS unions have signed the heads of agreement—but also many reports of the members of those unions being angry and prepared to challenge hard.
It’s clear the government has sought to divide public sector workers.
Unite health committee member Gill George told Socialist Worker, “The strength of 30 November lay in the two million public sector workers who took action together. Unite’s role, as the biggest TUC union and the only union with members in every scheme, is pivotal.
“We need Unite to be rejecting the government’s divide-and-rule tactics by uniting all of our own public sector members, and by standing alongside every other group that’s up for a fight.”
The committee meets again next Wednesday. Unite’s local government committee and government departments committee also meet early next week.