Leicester City Unison held a rally to launch the ballot on Wednesday.
Around 75 people came to hear regional secretary Helen Black speak about the attacks on pensions, and how the government is trying to pitch private and public sector workers against each other in a race to the bottom.
Members of other unions including the NUT came along too.
Becky Lopez, Leicester
Members of Rochdale Unison kicked off the “vote yes” campaign last week by leafleting the largest council buildings.
But they weren’t alone. A thieving “David Cameron” turned up with a swag bag full of pensions loot.
The leafleting went down very well, with people laughing at and threatening Cameron.
Many said they were going to vote yes. A wanted picture has gone to the local press.
Sam O’Brien, Rochdale
The United Left (UL) of the Unite union in the London and Eastern region is twinning private sector workplaces with key public sector ones.
This is to build for the strikes on 30 November.
The UL is keen to show maximum support to public sector members striking to defend pensions.
We have also distributed Unite leaflets aimed at private sector workers to break down barriers.
Unite in the region has organised activists’ meetings on 22 October in Cambridge and London.
These can get activists together from the public and private sector and share ideas for campaigning.
‘Thousands of national and local leaflets and newsletters are being distributed here. There are section meetings across the council.
We plan to hold a stall in the town centre near the main council building with the local anti-cuts group.
We’ll explain to the public what the dispute’s all about and ask for support.
Some people are not confident we can beat the Tories.
But we are countering this.
If the government gets away with its attack, the increase in pension contributions will be equivalent to working six to nine days for nothing.
Plus it will give them the green light to go for us over other issues, like job cuts and pay.
We’re also arguing that we have won before, in 1989—and this time we are joining with other unions.
There is a sense that “the gloves are now off”—and we have to win.’
Simon Hall, Gateshead
Four Unison meetings have taken place across Sandwell council, with attendance ranging from 30 to 60 members at each.
At the end of each meeting members took leaflets and stickers to distribute to their work colleagues.
On Friday of last week, stewards walked around Sandwell Council House talking to workers at their desks to highlight the scale of the attack.
There was a lack of knowledge about it—in particular about the contribution hikes due to come into effect 1 April 2012.
This caught the attention of all.
Although local newsletters had been produced, it is vital union activists go out and explain the nature of the attack to everyone.
We must encourage as many members as possible to vote yes for action.
Directly going to workplaces changes the mood and lifts those that already want to fight.
Next week a joint meeting of all unions in the council will come together to coordinate action locally.
Tony Barnsley, Sandwell
The “yes” campaign is going pretty well.
We have recruited eight new members to Unison in the last few weeks.
More workplace meetings are planned, plus a branch meeting for all members which will be addressed by an FBU union official.
We are arguing for stewards to talk to all members. I have produced a form so they can tick off members as they receive and return their ballot papers.
Nobody has argued against action at the meetings—the main concern has been that the ballot did not start earlier.
Some are not happy with the regional and industry-by-industry action that the officials say will follow the strike on 30 November.
They want all the unions to be out together.’
Tony Phillips, London Fire Authority
I’ve been in Manchester Unison for 26 years—but this week I’ve seen the beginnings of an emerging rank and file.
It’s been fantastic.
I work in a building with nearly 1,000 workers. There are 200 people on my floor.
A group of us went round the building and put a leaflet on every single desk.
Some people were nervous at first, but ended up really enjoying it.
I recruited five people to the union on the back of it.
It was easy—in a lot of cases it was just that no one had asked them.
There’s a lot of work still to be done. But the branch has started to move.
We’ve done a series of section meetings and there are some new stewards’ committees getting off the ground.
People are coming up to me and saying, “I’ll come leafleting with you—this is my name and this is my number.”
There’s potential to pull people into activity.
One woman I gave a leaflet to on Friday said, “Even if it wasn’t the pensions, I just so want a fightback.”
Marion Doherty, Manchester
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