LEIGH UNITE THE UNION BRANCH CHAIR STEPHEN HALL, whose 950 strong Branch consists of workers almost entirely employed within the private sector, explains why the proposed strikes and ‘Day of Action’ should be supported by all private sector workers and everyone else opposed to the Government’s cuts and privatisation agenda.
UNITE the UNION is calling for its 250,000 members in the public sector to vote YES to strike action on the 30th November in the forthcoming postal ballot over pensions. It is doing so alongside most other public sector unions such as UNISON, the PCS, the Teachers’ and College & University Lecturers’ unions, the GMB, etc. If successful it will be the largest co-ordinated one day strike by workers in this country since the 1920s.
UNITE activists can download a leaflet outlining the Union’s case at: http://www.unitetheunion.org/pdf/politicalbriefing.pdf also a poster at: http://www.unitetheunion.org/pdf/more-less_Poster_A3_NEW.pdf there also a Pensions Calculator at: http://pensionsjustice.org.uk/pensions-changes-calculator/
UNITE’s leaflet more than amply nails the lie peddled by the popular media of ‘bloated’, ‘gold-plated’ public sector pensions, the median public sector pension being currently £5,600 a year and for women it is just under £4,000, with 65% receiving less than £6,000. The Pensions Calculator also allows most public sector workers to find out how much more they will need to pay into their scheme, and how much less they will get out on retirement. UNITE sums this up as more or less 50% MORE FOR 50% LESS!
However, it is not my aim here, to so much add to the weight of argument in favour of a YES vote, but rather to explain why my own Branch members and all other workers in the private sector should be backing the proposed strikes and demonstrating their solidarity with those doing the striking on the day.
AN INJURY TO ONE IS AN INJURY TO ALL!
Should the public sector unions, including our own, be defeated on the issue of public sector pensions, something which is also a major object of what the Government is wanting to do, then it will also open the door to even further assaults by them on all of us.
With pension provision for most private sector workers already lagging behind that in the public sector, what chance our gaining ground on that front either following such a defeat? More likely, spurred on by the Government’s victory over the public sector unions, we’re likely to see a co-ordinated offensive by the employers to roll even that back on a similar basis. We are after all, ‘…all in it together!”
However, there is also the glaringly obvious need to support the Day of Action over pensions as an expression of support for the fight not just on that issue alone, but the Government’s entire cuts and privatisation strategy of making us ordinary folk pay for the economic mess caused by their system which has been brought to a head by the greedy Bankers and the massive cost to the taxpayer of the state bailouts of the Banks concerned and the economic knock-on effects of the global banking crisis of 2008.
The attack on public sector pensions is merely one expression of this, another is Library and Hospital closures, youth service cuts, benefit cuts, increases in regressive taxes like VAT, cuts in Sure Start, Home Helps, etc, etc. Anyone opposed to any of these things should see in the 30th November strikes over pensions, not the public sector unions looking after their own sectional interests at the expense of the rest of us, but rather the very same cause as their own and the public sector workers’ unions’ victory their own victory and the first time for many decades as a result of mass strike action, anyone has been able to force a UK Government to retreat. The effect on the morale of the Trades Unionists involved will certainly be greatly enhanced by it as will that of the wider working class.
WIGAN TRADES COUNCIL PLANS LOCAL ‘DAY OF ACTION’ ACTIVITIES
Meeting earlier this week, delegates to Wigan Trades Council representing UNISON, the PCS and UNITE met to agree an outline plan for a Borough-wide ‘Day of Action’ in keeping with calls by the NW TUC for such in Wigan on the day.
The outline plan, which has still to be ‘fleshed out’ includes.
1. Mutual support for each other in helping to secure a Yes vote for all Union’s balloting for strike action on the 30th November.
2. Support for each other’s picket lines each day and encouraging everyone to attend their respective union’s picket lines on the day.
3. Leafletting by activists from all the Union’s concerned in Wigan town centre on the 12th, 19th & 26th November to help generate wider public support for the strikes and local ‘Day of Action’. (12.00 noon – 1.00pm)
4. A mobilising meeting open to the public but aimed primarily at the various public unions branches in the Borough on Saturday 19th November at Wigan UNITE Office, Hallgate. (10.30am – 12.00 noon)
5. A town centre demonstration and rally in Wigan starting at Whelley Labour Club concluding at Market Place (outside Moon Under Water) on Wednesday 30th November. Full details yet to be finalised.