RECENT VICTORIES in private sector pension battles show that our side can win. Private sector workers have suffered attacks on their pensions for years. In the last ten years, almost 50 percent of final salary schemes have been closed to new entrants.
Yet, where workers have shown a willingness to strike to defend their pensions, even the most determined managements have had to back down.
Workers at Birmingham Airport stopped bosses’ plans to close their final salary scheme to new entrants after votes for strikes in December. Members of the Amicus and TGWU unions balloted for strike action after two years of negotiations had failed to stop the attack.
Management backed down during negotiations after the vote for action. Threatened strike action by 7,500 Network Rail employees also fought off attempts to close their final salary scheme in June. Bosses had previously said “hell would freeze over” before they would back down on their plans.
One rail worker described Network Rail’s climbdown as “a big lesson for all trade unionists—we can do something to defend pensions. Imagine what would be possible if every union took action together.”