Socialist Worker

Activists build vote for pensions action on 28 March

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2291

Scottish education union EIS is the latest to announce moves to strike on 28 March.

Its executive council agreed last week to consult members on further action over the government’s attacks on pensions. It is recommending that workers back the strike.

The consultation will begin on Monday of next week and end on 15 March.

This is the same timetable as the NUT union’s consultation of teachers in England and Wales. UCAC, the Welsh teachers’ union, is also consulting its members on further action, as is the UCU lecturers’ union.

The consultation in the PCS civil service workers union runs from 24 February to 16 March.

All five unions could strike together on 28 March, along with and some workers in Unite.


Elaine Edwards, general secretary of UCAC, told Socialist Worker, “The government has kept its cost ceiling. This means that money can be moved around but there will still be cuts.”

Edwards said workers were angry because the increased contributions would not go to the pension schemes but to the government—to pay off the deficit. “This is another tax on public sector workers,” she said.

“I’ve had several people over 50, who have some protections in the latest offer, contact me recently. They are angry about how the changes will hit younger members.

“We have a valid strike ballot in place. If our members want to take more action, we will be aiming to join other unions and strike on 28 March.”

Unions are now organising to build the biggest possible yes votes in the consultations.

The NUT is phoning every union rep about it. More than 70 NUT branches have reps’ briefings organised this week.

Activists in the UCU lecturers’ union are also involved.

UCU NEC member Laura Miles told Socialist Worker, “It’s crucial that UCU members vote to ensure the union is committed to the kind of fightback we need against the Tory coalition.”

Activists should get workers together over the next week and hold collective votes in the consultations.

They should invite workers from other unions to meetings to discuss the dispute.

The key task over the next couple of weeks is to generate the biggest vote for action possible. The Tories are on the rocks over their health and welfare reforms. Strikes have the power to beat them.

Put pressure on the rest

Workers in the unions set to strike all work with people in unions that aren’t yet planning official strikes.

The NASUWT union, for example, has not signed the government’s heads of agreement. But it has not announced plans for more strikes either.

Many Unison members who went on strike on 30 November will support those still fighting.

There is a real possibility of solidarity on the day.

Activists should organise picket lines at every workplace and ask fellow workers not to cross.

Alongside mass rallies and protests in every town every worker can play a part in 28 March.

Unite the Resistance meeting to plan the action

Trade unionists in Sheffield, Manchester, London and Cardiff are gearing up for Unite the Resistance rallies next week.

Liz Lawrence is the UCU union’s regional secretary for Yorkshire and Humberside. “This will be an opportunity to discuss ways of defending public sector pensions,” she told Socialist Worker.

“Union activists in NUT, PCS and UCU must work hard to win the consultation exercises taking place in these unions. We need strong votes in favour of rejecting the ‘heads of agreement’ and for taking further industrial action.

“We also need a plan of industrial action which will make the government back down. The 28 March strike must be only the beginning of the action.”

Ben Morris from the NUT’s Sheffield branch said that naming the 28 March as a potential strike date had lent an “urgency and practical purpose” to the Unite the Resistance rally.

“This won’t just be an occasion for speeches,” he said. “We’ll be discussing how to organise pickets and how we can leverage the unions that are striking to spread action to the unions that aren’t.”

  • Cardiff with Sean Vernell (UCU), Beth Davies (NUT), Steve Ryan (PCS), Ramon Corria (Cardiff trades council), Transport House, Cathedral Road, CF11 9SD, Tuesday 28 February, 7pm.
  • London with Mark Serwotka (PCS), Steve Kelly (Unite/ electricians’ dispute). Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, WC1R 4RL, Thursday 15 March 7pm.
  • Manchester with Mark Serwotka (PCS), Karen Reissmann (Unison, pc), Avis Gilmore (NUT) and Maria Pentaraki (UCU). Mechanics Institute, 103 Princess Street, M1 6DD, Wednesday 29 February, 7pm.
  • Sheffield with Liz Lawrence (UCU), Martin Mayer (Unite), Ben Morris (NUT) and Marion Lloyd (PCS). Quaker Meeting House, 10 St James Street, S1 2EW, Wednesday 29 February, 7pm.

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Article information

Tue 21 Feb 2012, 18:24 GMT
Issue No. 2291
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