It's less than two weeks before the first groups of an eventual 1.5 million workers are due to begin balloting for strikes. From 20 February ten unions will start strike ballots over the threats to local government workers’ and firefighters’ pensions.
Local campaigns must begin now, if they have not already. Andy Brammer, a Unison steward and local Unison pensions contact, reports from Wakefield on a model for others to follow.
He says, “We went into the town centre for a public event last Saturday. We had hired six skeleton outfits, and there were over 25 people taking part. They came from Unison, but also the Ucatt building workers’ union and the FBU firefighters’ union.
“The response from the public was very good.
“We were saying that Bush and Brown were the new pension robbers. We talked about how all our pensions were under attack, including the private sector, and that the Turner commission report was a threat to everyone’s pension age.
“The springboard for the event was an activists’ meeting of 30 a couple of weeks ago. We decided to launch a campaign and went out to the members. One steward in housing has held five section meetings. Not one of them was less than 25.
“We discovered that many members thought the pensions issue had been settled. When we explained this wasn’t so, they were even more angry than when they voted for a strike in 2005. Now we are going to make sure we have a big yes for action from this area.”
Kenny Ross, the FBU’s Scottish regional secretary, told Socialist Worker, “The indications from the many station meetings that have been held are that Scotland will be going to the union’s recall conference on 16 February with a mandate to support strikes.
“Firefighters are angry that they signed up to a set of conditions which have now been taken away. We ask why the police, who have the same scheme as firefighters, will be protected, while firefighters face worse conditions?”