No to a pensions sell-out

16th November 2011

The great pensions fightback is in danger. Some trade union leaders – and the head of the TUC – are urging acceptance of a rotten deal that betrays the magnificent 30 November strike by 2.5 million workers.

The 30 November strikes can be the beginning of a new era in working class resistance. This potential must not be strangled by those with no faith in the fightback.

Thursday’s meeting of the TUC public service liaison group (PSLG) heard that Francis Maude and the Coalition hatchet men are demanding that some trade unions accept in principle a deal to end the dispute on Monday. If they do not, says Maude, the government will withdraw all the “improvements’” to the pensions deal that have been offered in recent months.

Some new re-arrangement of the deal offered at the beginning of November was offered this week. But there is not a penny of new money. It is merely a reshuffle of a toxic deck. Local government workers have simply been offered a two-year postponement of the contributions increase – at the expense of worsening of other aspects of the deal. The government still wants public sector workers to work longer, pay more and get less.

Disgracefully TUC leader Brendan Barber and Unison general secretary Dave Prentis argued for acceptance. Do they not know, or not care, that conceding to the bullying of our class enemies simply leads to more vicious assaults?

The Tories have escalated the battle: we need to do the same – not surrender to threats and blackmail. The unions should immediately name the day for another strike in January that is at least as big as 30 November.

We applaud those union leaders who were against accepting the deal at the PSLG. Rank and file workers pushed their leaders to fight in the run-up to 30 November. Now everyone must demand that there is no sell-out and instead there is escalation. Rank and file workers, union branches and their officials, and union executive members must speak out against the sell-out.

The 30 November saw the biggest ever strike by women in Britain, brought hundreds of thousands of workers out on strike for the first time, led to demonstrations by 500,000 or more, and brought unions which rarely take action into the frontline. That must not be thrown away.

The Coalition is divided and vulnerable. It is time to step up the action against it. As the economic crisis worsens, all working people, students, the unemployed, pensioners and many others are looking to the unions to head the resistance. A BBC poll showed 61 percent backed the strikes.

There is no reason why those who want surrender should win the day. We have powerful forces on our side if we can mobilise them.

Action, not retreat!

Lobby the TUC public services liaison group meeting in London on Monday 19 December.
For a mass lobby of the TUC meeting in January.

    Send emails to your regional and national unions demanding that this blackmail is rejected and that the unions name the day for another strike in January.

    Demand that there is no acceptance of a deal in any form unless there has been thorough democratic consideration by union members.

    No settlement sector by sector. We all came out together, we should settle together.

    Some union branches are circulating appeals to stop a sell-out. We will post these as soon as they are finalised. Everyone should get behind them and circulate them.