Organise for 30 June!

Submitted by martin on 10 May, 2011 - 7:52

On Tuesday 17 May members of the National Union of Teachers will begin balloting on strikes against the government's plans to increase their pension contributions, raise their pension age, and cut their pensions.

The government plans affect all public service workers - in similar, though slightly varying ways. They go together with the government's plans to increase the age for the state pension, and are setting the frame for further trashing of what pension provision remains in the private sector.

Another teachers' union, ATL, will start balloting on 20 May. On 18-20 May the civil service union PCS holds its conference in Brighton, and is expected to vote to ballot from 23 May.

The lecturers' union UCU already has a ballot mandate to strike over pensions. NUT, PCS, ATL, and UCU members are likely to strike together on 30 June.

Unite’s healthworkers' committee voted on 15 April in favour of co-ordinating industrial action with other public sector unions on 30 June, though it is doubtful whether the higher leadership of Unite will go along with this.

Dave Prentis, secretary of Unison, the biggest union in health and local government, said on 30 April: "Unison will ballot one million of its members to strike to protect their pensions. This will not be a token skirmish, but a prolonged and sustained war, because this government has declared war on a huge proportion of the population".

However, Unison's national executive, with the consent of some of the left, has voted not to ballot in time for 30 June, saying that it hasn't yet (a year after the government announced its moves on pensions) got its membership database into good enough shape.

The National Association of Head Teachers has voted to ballot, but in the autumn.

This action could be the beginning of a serious fightback against the government. At the National Union of Teachers conference, at Easter, an amendment originating with Workers' Liberty teachers seeking to commit the union to definite action plans after 30 June was manoeuvred off the conference floor with the complicity of much of the left of the union.

But confidence will grow with action. Some Trades Councils and anti-cuts committees are already organising to create joint committees of the unions striking on 30 June, open also to observers from other unions. They can build for meetings and rallies on 30 June which put pressure on the union leaders.

Workers' Liberty has called a joint meeting of our union fractions among teachers, civil service workers, local government workers, health workers, and lecturers, for 28 May in London.


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