The local government section group executive of the Unison union met last week to discuss the government’s latest pensions plans.
Delegates showed a lot of anger at the proposals. They voted unanimously to ballot Unison’s local government members next month over industrial action against the proposals.
The meeting only covered local government, but the government’s proposals affect other Unison members who work in probation and police services.
We met with these sections just before our meeting. In those groups too there was overwhelming support for action. They will convene their own meetings soon to confirm this.
The government has announced its decision to abolish the “rule of 85”, which allows some local government workers to retire early on a full pension. Unison nationally has responded with a legal challenge.
But the government has thrown down the gauntlet to us with its new proposals, and we need to pick it up and throw it back. The legal challenge is one way of doing that, but we should not put all our eggs in one basket.
We should also call for industrial action. I’m of the view that courts of law are no friends of the working class. They weren’t of any help in the case of the sacked Gate Gourmet workers.
As soon as I found out about the government’s proposals I contacted branches across my region, Yorkshire and Humberside. The overwhelming response was that we need to do something about this.
Others on the service group executive were told the same thing by members in their areas. There’s a real groundswell of anger from our members, and we need the old fashioned tactics of walking out.
We also need to think in terms of solidarity with other public sector workers. If we take industrial action it needs to be at the same time as other unions, even if we’re striking over different issues, such as civil service workers striking against job losses.