Huge strike against pension cuts on the way

Teachers on strike against pension cuts, June 30

A massive November walkout of up to 3 million public sector workers is now on the cards as the UK's largest unions announce their intention to ballot for strike action over pension reform.

Unison, Unite and the GMB, the UK's largest biggest unions, have announced their intention to ballot for coordinated strike action against cuts to public sector workers pensions.

Other unions which have not taken action over pensions so far also indicated their intention to ballot, including the NASUWT (a teachers' union), NAHT (headteachers), FBU (firefighters), Prospect (civil servants).

Unions which took strike action over the same issue on June 30 will almost certainly join this action as well, including PCS (civil servants), NUT (teachers), ATL (teachers) and UCU (university and college workers).

Importantly, the three big unions have members in the NHS and its contractors, and have stated their intention to ballot them for industrial action as well. Unison has stated it will ballot 1.1 million members at 9000 different employers.

Despite agreeing to enter scheme-specific talks with the government without having achieved any concessions on the main planks of the overall changes, the union leaderships are now talking tough, calling this "the fight of our lives".

The three big unions have stated they will support a big one-day strike, followed by selective "smart" stoppages rolling on until next summer.

The first increase in workers' pension contribution payments, where workers will see their pay cheques shrink, is due to come in in April 2012.

Behind the scenes, it is rumoured that Dave Prentis, Unison's general secretary, may be prepared to make a deal if local government workers are exempted from our proposed 50% increase in pension contributions. We cannot accept this - we need to all stick together. Because if we let other groups of workers have their contributions be increased, then a couple of years down the line they will be back for ours, and those workers will think "why should we support them, when they didn't support us?".

The unions have a patchy record of defending public sector workers' pensions. In 2006 when a big wave of pension cuts were proposed, following a one-day strike, further strike action called off, and eventually a deal agreeing to significant cuts in pensions was recommended to now-demobilised union members.

If we want to have a serious chance at fighting these cuts, then we have to make this action as effective as possible, broaden it out as much as possible and take the struggle into our own control as much as possible. If we let ourselves be passively led by the unions then we will be defeated again.


Chilli Sauce
Nov 10 2011 17:08

Ah, but we are dealing with a trade union here and a management union at that!

Fall Back
Nov 10 2011 19:27

If just the head strikes, what actually happens? Do they have to close the school down or have any restrictions on what they can do for legal reasons or anything? Or does it just go on as usual?

Nov 10 2011 21:57

The school would stay open - same as if a head was ill. The thing is, if teachers or support staff strike, the head is the one who makes the choice to keep the school open or not, so if they are striking as well it will definitely close.

With the switch from final salary to career average payout, the heads stand to lose a lot more than anyone else (although TBH I don't have a problem with this as their payouts are in general way too big due to this formula)

Nov 10 2011 22:00

If just the head strikes, it wouldn't be enough to close a school, they simply delegate to a deputy head, plus they are often out at training/conferences etc.
Heads generally want to keep schools open, they only close when there's sufficient staff out to make it a health & safety concern.

Obv it'd be mental of them not to go for Nov30 too. Our head is fairly anti-union, but did get his secretary to pass round a petition against pension reforms. Even the most anti union heads know that the reforms will hit them big time - moreso in % terms than rank and file teachers even.

So there's a tension for even old-school heads. they know they're getting hit in the pocket too, but supporting these strikes lets unions get their foot in the door again in schools (esp academies and 'free'-schools) where they'd pretty much killed-off active unions.

Nov 10 2011 23:46
Choccy wrote:
So there's a tension for even old-school heads. they know they're getting hit in the pocket too, but supporting these strikes lets unions get their foot in the door again in schools (esp academies and 'free'-schools) where they'd pretty much killed-off active unions.

yeah, I think in some ways these austerity measures are going to cause long-term problems for the government going on from here. Interesting times!

Caiman del Barrio
Nov 11 2011 11:21

March between pickets in Lewisham on the day itself.

Nov 16 2011 00:01

A helpful rundown of ballot results compiled by someone on the AF internal forum:

Votes for strikes announced in the last week
Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists (SCP): Voted by 85 percent for strikes on a 52 percent turnout
Society of Radiographers (SOR): 84 percent vote for strikes on a 58 percent turnout
FDA: Backed strikes by 81 percent on a 54 percent turnout
Prospect: 75 percent voted for strikes on a 52 percent turnout
Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP): 64 percent vote for strikes
Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) in Northern Ireland : 77 percent vote for strikes
NAHT headteachers’ union: Backed strikes by 75 percent on a 54 percent turnout
Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP): Voted by 86 percent for strikes on a 66 percent turnout
Other recent votes for strikes
Unison: 78 percent voted for strikes on a 29 percent turnout
EIS Scottish teachers’ union: Voted by 82.2 percent for action with a turnout of 54.2 percent
Nipsa (Northern Ireland): Balloted for strikes over pensions, pay and jobs. Voted by 67 percent for strikes on a 43 percent turnout
The Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland (AHDS): Voted by just under 60 percent for strikes on a 38 percent turnout
Nov 16 2011 16:32

GMB result announced:
83.7% yes, 16.3% no

Jan 21 2012 18:49

when is this article from?
I searched for "1996 pension strike pcs" because i was in my first 6 months of city council job
when we struck for a day
(it meant by "probation" was extended a day)

but my recollection is that the dispute ended when pcs signed a seperate deal with (Labour) govt.

since then there is 2-tier pension scheme in local authorities and i guess civil service and other unions/industries mentioned.
altho i remain on the old scheme, that 'protection' is fkd now.....

and it is WRoNG to accept 2-tier workforce at all!

so mark serwotka is coming to Birmingham on Thurs i think
so wanna aks him!

Jan 21 2012 23:44

This article has the date on it: 14 September 2011