Fresh forces joined the battle for pensions this week, underlining the immense potential for united strike action by 1.5 million workers.
There had been doubt about whether the GMB union would line up with Unison, T&G, Amicus, Ucatt and some smaller unions to strike in defence of the local government pension scheme (LGPS).
But on Monday the union announced it was sending out strike ballot papers to all its 200,000 LGPS members.
The GMB members to be balloted work for local authorities across Britain as staff in the police and fire services and as non-teaching staff in further and higher education.
Brian Strutton, GMB national secretary for public services, said, “Before negotiation on changing the scheme can happen, deputy prime minister John Prescott and the Tory-led local government association are pursuing their cost cutting agenda by removing the rule of 85 from the LGPS.
“This is the only provision that prevents local government workers losing a third of their pensions if they retire at 60. For the second time the government is legislating to remove this right without any comparable provision to replace it and without the protections afforded to other public sector workers.”
It is vital that activists in all the unions involved hurl themselves into getting the biggest possible yes vote. A high turnout and a massive yes vote will let the government know that workers will not take their rotten proposals lying down.
Systematic work is needed in sections and with individuals to make sure they fully understand the arguments for action and have received and returned their ballot papers.
As the Unison briefing to members said this week, “Branches are asked to use every means possible to ensure that we get a clear mandate for industrial action.”
It is also time to start organising for activities on Tuesday 28 March, the proposed first day of strike action.
Haven’t received your ballot paper yet?
Unison members – call 0845 355 0845 from 6am to midnight weekdays and 9pm to 4pm on Saturday
T&G local government members – call 020 8889 9203 from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday