NHS pensions agency
Over 200 members of the PCS civil service union working at the NHS Pensions Agency in Fleetwood, Lancashire, struck solidly on Friday of last week against the government’s plans to privatise the agency.
Joanne Leadbetter, the PCS branch chair, told Socialist Worker, “We are absolutely delighted with how the strike has gone. Around 40 members joined the picket throughout the day.
“We are out to win. Very few people crossed the picket line. We are meeting our union leaders this week to decide the way forward.
“We will be working to rule and we are considering a lobby of MPs and ministers.
“Everyone has seen the impact of privatisation after our support services – the postroom, security, typing – was privatised four years ago. It is now run by Paymaster, who want to run the whole agency.
“There have been attacks on terms and conditions. There has been no pay rise. And there have been attempts to impose a dress code – which we fought and won.”
Socialist Worker’s guide to the pensions ballots
Who will be balloting for strike action?
They will include nursery nurses, teaching assistants, home care workers, school meals workers, some bus drivers, road gritters, meat hygiene inspectors, environmental health officers, librarians, gardeners, college technicians, admin and clerical staff, secretaries and cleaners.
What’s the timetable?
The most likely dates, according to senior union officials contacted by Socialist Worker, are that, with the exception of the firefighters, the ballots will begin around 20 February.
The firefighters’ ballot will start slightly later, after the FBU union recall conference.
The results of the ballots would be known around 13 March and the first strike would be 28 March.
National Pensioners Convention calls for a week of action
The national Pensioners Convention (NPC) has called a pensions action week, set to start on 11 March.
The NPC is an umbrella group for over 1,000 pensioners’ groups in Britain representing more than 1.5 million people.
The aim of the week of action is to press home the message that the Turner pensions commission report offered very little for today’s pensioners.
The NPC is pressing for immediate improvements in the basic state pension. Its key demands are:
- Raising the basic state pension to £114.05 a week from April 2006
- Restoring the link between pensions and earnings
- Paying it to all existing pensioners
The week of action will start with a series of regional rallies, involving pensioners, trade unionists, students and politicians in cities across the country. Cities with rallies planned include Edinburgh, Newcastle, Manchester, Nottingham and Birmingham.
The week is set to end with a protest rally in London at the TUC headquarters.
Trade unions organising meetings in the run-up to their ballots are urged to invite NPC speakers.
For more on the NPC, go to www.npcuk.org
Tanker drivers set to strike
Oil tanker drivers who deliver to Tesco forecourts were set to strike this week over pensions and other issues.
Some 140 drivers in the south west and south east of England were to take action on Wednesday and Thursday at depots at Purfleet in Essex, Avonmouth near Bristol, and Cardiff.
The dispute started when the company, Wincanton, lost the delivery contract to rival contractors TDG. TDG has failed to guarantee that the drivers’ jobs, pensions, pay, terms and conditions would be honoured. The drivers’ T&G union says they should be protected under the Tupe employment regulations.
Pensions, profit and resistance
Get the new Socialist Worker pamphlet by Charlie Kimber
“This fantastic pamphlet is an important weapon in the toolkit of all trade union activists. It lays out clearly the attack on the pensions of public and private sector workers, and demolishes the myth that there is no money.”
Jane Hardy, Natfhe lecturers’ union national executive (pc)
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