Socialist Worker

10 May strike can boost fight against pensions robbery

by Julie Sherry
Issue No. 2299

Ten thousand strikers and supporters marching during a London-wide strike of teachers and lecturers on 28 March  (Pic: http://www.guysmallman.com/Guy Smallman )

Ten thousand strikers and supporters marching during a London-wide strike of teachers and lecturers on 28 March (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Some 100,000 health workers in the Unite union will strike to defend pensions on 10 May.

And 290,000 civil service workers in the PCS union will join them.

The Tories want to force millions of public sector workers to work longer, pay more into their pensions and get less when they retire.

They made much of the “heads of agreement”—the so-called “final offer” on pensions negotiations—at the end of last year.

But the government is refusing to budge on these three key attacks.

Many workers are disappointed that union leaders haven’t called a national strike in the dispute since 30 November last year.

But the mood is still there to fight—and 10 May is a chance to regain the momentum.

The PCS union’s national executive committee met on Tuesday of this week.

It unanimously decided to join the strike on 10 May and to strike again in June.

This opens the possibility of two mass public sector strikes in quick succession.

Nipsa, Northern Ireland’s public sector workers’ union, could join the strike too.

Strategy

The UCU lecturers’ union has decided to strike alongside any other union that takes national action. Its national executive committee is set to meet later this month.

And teachers in the NUT union are fighting to join the 10 May strike on a regional basis (see below, right).

This means that up to half a million workers could strike together.

People want to keep fighting. But they also want a strategy to win.

Margaret Davies is a PCS member from South Wales Revenue and Customs branch.

She told Socialist Worker, “When London teachers and lecturers struck on 28 March so many people said, ‘Why aren’t we out? We voted for it.’

“People were disappointed. They were ready for a national strike.

“We are willing to come out in South Wales. Workers in other unions want to come out too.

“We have to show this government that we are not going to accept this. A national coordinated strike this term can be done.”

The planned strike on 10 May could also boost health workers in Unison.

They are currently voting on whether to accept the government’s heads of agreement, or reject it and back more strikes (see below).

As Frank Wood from Unite’s national executive committee said, “Through building 10 May we’re also saying to other health unions, ‘The struggle isn’t over’.”

Health workers in the GMB union are waiting for a promised consultation on the heads of agreement.

Health workers in Unison in Scotland are continuing rolling strikes over pensions.

Workers in the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Nursing have rejected the deal.

The government has already imposed increased pension contributions on workers.

Helen McFarlane, a health worker on the Unite executive, said that this would “reignite workers’ anger”.

She said, “On 30 November Unite had to negotiate with members to organise basic emergency cover because everyone wanted to strike.”

John Cowie is a Unite rep at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

“The key message,” he said, “is that this strike is not just about workers’ pensions.

“It’s also about fighting for the future of the NHS and our services.

“It’s an opportunity to show that we’re not just going to take what’s thrown at us—not privatisation, not cuts, not pensions attacks.”

Workers in every union should take the chance to be part of the action.

This fight is a beacon for everyone facing the Tories’ assault.

Cameron and his cronies are embattled by scandal and crisis, they dread more strikes.

They are vulnerable—and mass action can stop them.


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