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Council staff vote for mass strikes over pensions

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Steve
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Mar 15 2006 13:49
Council staff vote for mass strikes over pensions

Strike 28th March

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4808224.stm

http://www.unison.org.uk/news/news_view.asp?did=2492

The worrying thing though is the low turnout for the ballot, 28% Hope it's solid.

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Steven.
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Mar 15 2006 19:22

This strike will affect me, I'm a temp in a local council office with a couple of hundred people there. The union seems very weak and detached from the workforce though - especially in my dept (HR). The pensions thing doesn't seem to be much of a big deal, so who knows what'll happen.

There are a lot of temps, so not sure what we'll do. When I was a temp at the BFI during strikes I didn't cross the picket line, and a high manager tried to terminate my contract. My 2 line managers went and got me re-instated, but a few weeks later I had to leave. I don't know if that was related to the strike or just the temp role was up.

I have thought maybe it would've been smarter to just go in (a couple of people on strike in my dept said I should've gone to work) and just not worked, and got paid. So who knows, I'll talk it through with people. It would be within the power of managers who'll probably be on strike to have all the temps paid even if they don't do any work.

But nyeh we'll only have to catch up the work the next day anyway cos it's public service stuff. All in all this strike's a bit annoying really. Can't see it'll do much other than save them a day's wages! And I worry that people might just cross lines cos they see the strike as pointless... Still, it'll make for an interesting day at least!

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Lazy Riser
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Mar 15 2006 20:04

Hi

Quote:
And I worry that people might just cross lines cos they see the strike as pointless

Highly insightful. The strikes fit it into the bourgeoisie’s plans perfectly. Maybe it’s a feature of late capitalism that some strikes erode class solidarity rather than build it.

Love

LR

WeTheYouth
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Mar 15 2006 21:36

We should remember that alot of union members dont have good contact with there union so possibly the low turnout could have something to do with that, its like that for my partner, she never sees her gmb rep or even gets to know when the branch meetings are.

knightrose
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Mar 15 2006 21:38

I'd suggest you explain that the strike isn't pointless. It might seem a long way off, but do you really want to have to work till you're 65 or 70?

This strike has interesting possibilities. We've been striking about pay and resposibilities at school. If enough UNISON workers strike, will school be shut? If so, that means we'll have the place shut twice that week - once on Tuesday, once on Thursday (by the teachers).

I hope they put a picket line out.

madjag
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Mar 15 2006 21:51

Hopefully there will be a big turnout for the strike, this is massively important for the workers in all trades in this country, and massively important for the unions to increase their membership by showing effective direct action against employers works. We must ALL make sure that the union bosses do not sell their members out during this strike.

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Rob Ray
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Mar 15 2006 21:56

Had an interesting side-note in Ipswich actually, election for the local government Unison rep the other week turfed out a gutless wonder and installed a more militant type, according to a local contact of mine - it's highly likely the vote went the militant's way cos of the upcomign strike, so could be a good showing in town for once 8).

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Lazy Riser
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Mar 15 2006 22:07

Hi

Quote:
It might seem a long way off, but do you really want to have to work till you're 65 or 70?

In what way will the strikes prevent that from occuring? Are you proposing a universal retirement age of 45? You should, that way you're striking FOR something rather than AGAINST something. People will gravitate towards such a positive movement.

Love

LR

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Steven.
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Mar 16 2006 01:20
madjag wrote:
Hopefully there will be a big turnout for the strike, this is massively important for the workers in all trades in this country, and massively important for the unions to increase their membership by showing effective direct action against employers works.

But they're not taking any!

Quote:
We must ALL make sure that the union bosses do not sell their members out during this strike.

Hmmm, I'm not even sure this'll be much of an issue since the action is so tame... Then again I suppose the goal isn't unattainable - it's only for the same pension rights as other public sector workers have got already...

But I spose even they could still call it off!

Barry Kade
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Mar 16 2006 01:57

Really amazing how shit some people on these forums are! (Lazy Riser is especially clueless).

Loads of coverage of the French young workers revolt here - good. But now here in the UK we see the prospect of the biggest strike since 1926 - where are you?Nowhere. Just this lame, half hearted thread!

Over 1.5 million could strike on 28th March. Four to one just voted for this action. Where is the coverage? Even the bourgeoise press is better on this than libcom! Its a pity...after the excellent response to the French situation, I was beginning to really get into libcom! Thought, wow, some young anarchists/libertarian communists who are into the actual, real, living class struggle, rather than pet dreams and cranky petite bourgeoise schemes.

Maybe its because Libcommers are mainly young and therefore believe they are immortal, that the Pensions issue doesnt register here. But for the majority of the working class, especially millions of older workers (over 35 or 40) who have been fairly established in their jobs, the issue is very real.

This issue will concern millions of ordinary working people here in the UK. Capitalist ideology says things gradually improve for us. Now people face the prospect of being worked until they drop. Promises that people have believed in for years are being ripped up. This is major shit.

Doh! Maybe I should write something for the news page.

red star

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Steven.
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Mar 16 2006 02:19
Barry Kade wrote:
Over 1.5 million could strike on 28th March. Four to one just voted for this action. Where is the coverage? Even the bourgeoise press is better on this than libcom! Its a pity...after the excellent response to the French situation, I was beginning to really get into libcom! Thought, wow, some young anarchists/libertarian communists who are into the actual, real, living class struggle, rather than pet dreams and cranky petite bourgeoise schemes.

Well, we are - we just don't have time to cover everything mate, no matter how important!

We're actually working on a big feature about pensions, and were going to launch at the same time, but we need a piece about the strike and we're all fucking busy - esp with the France stuff, so in true anarchist fashion if something's missing - do it yourself! If you post it to news we'll stick it online. But bear in mind we're a tiny group of unpaid volunteers who all have jobs, degrees and lives going on.

Barry Kade
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Mar 16 2006 02:26

Thats better! And I'd love to help...cant make any promises, but was stitching together somthing towards a story. Must crash now, 'though!

I was more whining on about this thread! People just seemed really down on the whole action.

Good night and good luck!

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jef costello
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Mar 16 2006 02:42
Barry Kade wrote:
Doh! Maybe I should write something for the news page.

Exactly.

Quote:
Over 1.5 million could strike on 28th March

Several of us Steven. and myself have experience of public sector token strikes and are a little disillusioned. It may be defeatist but I don't see England producing a reaction like the one we are witnessing in France. The French are resisting a change that would make french rules more like ours. I hope they win, I doubt we ever will.

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Steven.
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Mar 16 2006 02:48
Jef Costello wrote:
The French are resisting a change that would make french rules more like ours. I hope they win, I doubt we ever will.

Ah that's will. The local govt workers demands are definitely winnable for now, potentially.

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JDMF
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Mar 16 2006 08:21

Steven. - you sound pretty same than me when the one day Higher Ed strike was announced. And thats cool, you see the faults, you see the pitfalls.

But in the end of the day, you just have to take a bad situation and try to make the best out of it. We certainly did with the HE strike, and in the balance of things, i think it was great! (as in great thing, not in any scale, in a scale of greatness it would not be so great, but its not so great to be measuring everything in the scale of blah blah blah...).

Locally, and in my personal experience on the day i managed to talk to perhaps 30-40 co-workers about all kinds of politics, and the atmosphere was great.

So, recognise the pitfalls, trash them out, but at some point we have to stop whining. If you can't trust communists to be solid on that day, the who can you trust?

At this point i suggest we open a new thread in organise (whereas this almost should have been on thought) and start doing some concrete organising around this issue. Lets produce some material to hand out about the strike and the crisis (in time this time around) and lets do some solidarity stuff!

First things first, who from libcom is going to be on strike on that day? Lucy82? Anyone else?

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Mar 16 2006 10:06

Hi

Quote:
Lazy Riser is especially clueless

We'll see. 1979 anyone?

Love

LR

ftony
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Mar 16 2006 10:17

JDMF i love you

i'm a student but will support in whatever way i can

first things first i will get my girlfriend to join unison asap, she's been meaning to do it for ages but never got round to it!

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Steven.
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Mar 16 2006 10:33
JDMF wrote:
So, recognise the pitfalls, trash them out, but at some point we have to stop whining. If you can't trust communists to be solid on that day, the who can you trust?

Yeah totally. I mean I kinda take it for granted on here people will agree with the action and be at least a bit excited. I am cos it'll only be my second ever strike. And it will probably be a helluva lot of people... 8)

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Lazy Riser
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Mar 16 2006 11:25

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Absolutely. Have you decided not to cross the picket line after all then Steven.?

Love

LR

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Steven.
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Mar 16 2006 11:56
Lazy Riser wrote:
Absolutely. Have you decided not to cross the picket line after all then Steven.?

Oh c'mon as if "crossing a picket line" was going to be an option. I'm going to talk to the permanent staff and see what they think. Although not a single person here has even mentioned the strike at all, in any context...

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Lazy Riser
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Mar 16 2006 12:37

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What do they think will happen to their pensions Steven.? What do they want instead (if anything) and what ideas have they got on how to achieve it?

The pension crisis is tied up with the money supply. Money supply economics are not understood by the majority of people (even the majority of “economists”), even though it is the fundamental mechanism controlling the standard of living.

As for the 1979 effect, does Barry think that a re-run of the Winter of Discontent is in the working class’ best interests? Was it last time?

Love

LR

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Volin
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Mar 16 2006 13:54

I would've thought you more than most people on these boards would be serious about pensions, Lazy.

-

Quote:
The pension crisis is tied up with the money supply. Money supply economics are not understood by the majority of people (even the majority of “economists”), even though it is the fundamental mechanism controlling the standard of living.

That mystical concept that pensioners couldn't possibly understand! Even by your standards what an incredibly stupid statement.

Do we want the age of retirement to be pushed further and further in the coming decades to nearly 70 fucking years? Is it acceptable that the majority of the pensioners who've spent their entire lives toiling have then to subsist on an income below the official poverty line -as they already do? And even then can it be considered in anyway civilised that 1.5 million+ retired people have then to return to work just to live? We want the retirement age to be extended no further and we want an adequate, living pension

...at the very least.

How do you think we'd go about achieving that?

Admin - debate about the merits of the strike split here:

http://libcom.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8599

Please just use thread thread for discussion of this strike action itself

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Lazy Riser
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Mar 16 2006 15:59

Hi

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but if you want to make a productive arguement go ahead and make one

If we put forward a progressive agenda of reducing the retirement age rather than simply defending an existing system, which is bankrupt anyway, then it’s something that the public can latch on to and show us in a positive light rather than just being another load of whinging lefties expecting the tax payer to bail us out of our cushy pensions (and yes, I’ve got a public sector pension too, so nah).

Love

LR

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cantdocartwheels
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Mar 16 2006 16:00

Very little time to build for it. For us outside a skilled union theres little we can do but act as onlookers. I have a feeling its going to be a pretty mundane affair. Its worth pushing the issue of pensions but hoping that this strike will somehow magically radicalise the unions is pretty much just 'reclaim the lbaour party' type looney tunes.

Seriously though any actual practical suggestions as to what we can do locally because i'm stumped?

ftony
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Mar 16 2006 16:23

solidarity wildcat strikes?

or is that a little too far-fetched?

alas i'm only a student, what do i know

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Lazy Riser
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Mar 16 2006 16:39

Hi

Quote:
Seriously though any actual practical suggestions as to what we can do locally because i'm stumped?

It surprises me that it’s legal to change the conditions of your public sector pension. If you signed a contract that said you get a pension when you’re 60, then you should get a pension when you’re 60. If my private pension suddenly decided it wasn’t going to pay out until I was 70, I’d have them in court. Interestingly, though, the rules have just changed so I can take the benefits of my small private pension when I’m 55 if I like (if my calculations are correct it’ll only be about 4K a year though).

I think JDMF’s approach makes sense, that is to say, we make the best out of the prevailing situation. It’s a excellent opportunity to discuss with fellow workers how the pensions problem is due to the economic under performance of the capitalist model and how, since about 1973, the money issued towards the working class after the 2nd World War has been withdrawn back into the elite from which it sprang.

As to actually defending public sector pensions in themselves, the bourgeoisie simply can’t afford to finance their commitment. In order to maintain them you’d need such a revolutionary change in the way the money supply works that the very notion of a “pension” as it currently stands would be largely irrelevant anyway.

Love

LR

Barry Kade
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Mar 16 2006 16:46
cantdocartwheels wrote:
Very little time to build for it. For us outside a skilled union theres little we can do but act as onlookers. I have a feeling its going to be a pretty mundane affair. Its worth pushing the issue of pensions but hoping that this strike will somehow magically radicalise the unions is pretty much just 'reclaim the lbaour party' type looney tunes.

Seriously though any actual practical suggestions as to what we can do locally because i'm stumped?

Well, if it goes ahead it will be significant. (The unions called off the last one before the 2005 general election). But lets assume it does (talks have broken down etc).

1.5 million workers on strike from nine different unions all on the same day! School dinner ladies, some significant public transport operations, police civilian staff, refuse collectors, council admin, welfare etc etc. Local newspapers already have headlines like 'city in grip of mass strike' etc.

It was pretty good just seeingt the AUT picket lines. What will be the effect of having dozens of different picket lines in every town and city, in terms of the generalising effect on class consciousness?

Surely this is not a mundane affair!

Now, what activists could push for is city and town wide rallies on the day, bringing together all the different strikers. And its an issue that millions who are not on strike can relate to.

Yes, it will be hard for youth based far left groups - anarchists, communists and anticapitalists to call this. So it will be the more rooted and reformist oriented activists who you will have to talk to. Trades councils might be able to do something. (Its probably easier for young anti-capitalists to pull off a student or other type of occupation than organise a strike rally). But you coiuld visit the picket lines with leaflets, etc.

Also, it might be (hopefully) more than a one day affair. Dave Prentis, the national gen sec of Unison, said: "We are digging in for the long term. This will not be one day of action - a whole range will be considered including further days of strikes and selective action."

Of course the union leaders can sabotage it, call it off, or make it fizzle out. But given the previously low level of working class collective struggle, 28th March could be a major event. And it possesses a winning quality - generalised class action...the feeling that it is all of us together, not just one section standing alone.

So while people may be guarded about gettinng too excited, given the history of defeats, divison and sell outs, their is a danger of being too cynical, and letting a major moment in the class struggle in Britain pass you by.

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Steven.
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Mar 16 2006 17:03
Barry Kade wrote:
1.5 million workers on strike from nine different unions all on the same day! School dinner ladies, some significant public transport operations, police civilian staff, refuse collectors, council admin, welfare etc etc. Local newspapers already have headlines like 'city in grip of mass strike' etc.

Ha you're good at being optimistic and agitational (are you some kind of trot, or "soft" trot by any chance? grin)

Lazy Riser - some eminently constructive points there 8)

Barry - one thing, I heard it was 900,000 local govt. workers affected, the Unison ads say "nearly 1m", are the other 600k in other unions then? They all ballot + vote yes as well? Or is it expected they just won't cross lines?

Battlescarred
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Mar 16 2006 17:31
Lazy Riser wrote:
Hi
Quote:
but if you want to make a productive arguement go ahead and make one

If we put forward a progressive agenda of reducing the retirement age rather than simply defending an existing system, which is bankrupt anyway, then it’s something that the public can latch on to and show us in a positive light rather than just being another load of whinging lefties expecting the tax payer to bail us out of our cushy pensions (and yes, I’ve got a public sector pension too, so nah).

Love

LR

So, you'll be down the picket line to put forward this agenda?

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Lazy Riser
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Mar 16 2006 19:42

Hi

Of course. I'm putting a hit squad together.

Love

LR

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Rob Ray
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Mar 16 2006 19:54

Either the GMB or T&G are saying they'll have 300k out think.