Trade union issues

Private sector pensions fight

Submitted by Matthew on 11 January, 2012 - 12:53

The ongoing pensions battle in the public sector has now spilt over into the private sector.

The Association of Consulting Actuaries (ACA) has reported that pensions in the private sector face “seismic collapse”. Nine out of ten private sector defined benefit schemes are close to new entrants, and four out of ten schemes do not allow existing staff to build up further benefits. Last week, Shell closed its final salary pension scheme to new workers, despite the pension pot being in surplus and Shell reporting profits over £4.5 billion in the last quarter of 2011.

Pensions fight: plan now for the New Year

Submitted by Matthew on 14 December, 2011 - 2:17

The government has dramatically raised the stakes in its class war assault against public sector trade unions.

George Osborne wants to see national pay rates for public sector workers abolished, and has written to the heads of pay review boards for teachers, nurses, civil servants and prison officers giving them until April 2013 to find ways of cutting workers’ pay.

New assault on workers' rights

Submitted by Matthew on 1 December, 2011 - 1:57

On 23 November the Tory-Lib-Dem government announced an assault on employment rights.

• You won’t be able to claim unfair dismissal until you’ve been in a job two years (present limit: one year)

• You’ll have to pay to go to an employment tribunal

• The law may allow workers to be sacked without redress in places with fewer than ten employees, and everywhere allow employers to threaten workers, and push them halfway out of the door, in a “protected conversation”, without any comeback.

Next steps after 30 November

Submitted by Matthew on 1 December, 2011 - 10:59

The immediate impact of the mass public sector strike on 30 November was to demonstrate the potential social power of the working class to a generation of workers who had not experienced it before. It gave a glimpse of the mass labour movement as a vital social force.

But if the strike is to play a role in actually defeating the government, rank-and-file trade unionists need to fight for a different strategy from the one on offer from their leaders.

After N30: build rank-and-file power. Fight to win!

Submitted by Matthew on 23 November, 2011 - 12:03

To orient the pensions battle after N30 around clear demands and to launch a programme of rolling, selective and escalating action that can win those demands, we have to create spaces where grassroots union members — the “rank-and-file” — can discuss, coordinate and organise together.

Those spaces can be levers of resistance against any attempt by union bureaucracies to derail or sell out the dispute.

Where next after N30?

Submitted by Matthew on 23 November, 2011 - 10:43

On picket lines on N30 and in meetings on the day and after, strikers should be developing plans of action for extending and escalating the dispute, and deepening it beyond isolated single days of strike action.

The pensions dispute will be won if, and only if, the government is convinced that the unions will escalate action and will hold out longer than the government will. Workers should not be left to wait until union leaders decide it’s time for another one-off “day of action”.

Rank-and-file control on N30

Submitted by Matthew on 16 November, 2011 - 2:04

By Patrick Murphy, Leeds National Union of Teachers (pc), and Ira Berkovic

It now looks as if events in Leeds on 30 November will be lively and big, but only after local trade unions decided they had to take control of organising for themselves in the face of an attempt by the regional TUC to shape the day without consulting us.

30 November: the biggest strike since 1926

Submitted by Matthew on 12 October, 2011 - 11:48

Not since the General Strike of 1926 has there been any comparable move by so many unions to strike together on the same day. 30 November is shaping up to be one of the biggest strikes in the history of the British labour movement, drawing in many workers who have never struck before.

The big local government and health union Unison will send out ballot papers from 11 October, to be returned by 3 November.