Socialist Worker

Pensions dispute - deadlock broken as more action called

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2287

Pickets at St Thomas

Pickets at St Thomas' Hospital in London on 30 November last year


Important shifts in the battle against Tory attacks on public sector pensions took place last week.

The UCU union named the day for a further coordinated strike on 1 March. This broke the deadlock in the unions that had seen many call for more action but back off from saying when it should happen.

UCU is now calling for other unions to come in behind it (see right).

This week, several unions that have rejected the government’s offer are set to meet. They must back another day of coordinated strikes.

The government’s latest offer from the end of last year contains no new money—and is committed to making savage cuts to public sector pensions.

Some union leaders believe this is all they can achieve and have been hesitant to call more action. But it’s clear that the mood is still there to fight the Tories’ assault on pensions.

Last week the British Medical Association (BMA) voted overwhelmingly to reject the government’s offer.

The BMA represents around 130,000 doctors and medical students. Some 80 percent voted to reject the pensions offer in a survey and two thirds backed industrial action.

An emergency meeting of the BMA set for Wednesday of this week will consider calling a ballot for industrial action.

Position

And other public sector workers continue to demand more strikes.

Unison members in local government are organising to call a special conference to discuss the union’s position.

The union’s leadership is currently backing the government’s latest offer.

Several branches, including Coventry, Salford, Lambeth, Camden, Brighton, Dundee and Islington have already passed a motion calling for a special conference.

The text to pass is, “This Branch requisitions a Special Conference of the Local Government Service Group to consider the policy of the Service Group in relation to the Local Government Pension Scheme.”

NUT branches including in Islington, Wakefield and Sheffield have also passed motions calling on the union’s executive to name a strike day.

The enthusiasm for the action among the millions who struck on 30 November showed workers want to take on the government.

If the Tories win, it will lay the basis for even harsher attacks in the years to come.

That’s why everyone must pile the pressure on their union leaders to call more united action.


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