Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Government's "contribution" to pension negotiations - we should strike back

I really am trying to do nothing whilst on leave, particularly as the prospect of an adequately remunerated retirement seems to be in some jeopardy! But things keep happening...

The Government's decision to announce proposed "contribution increases" for public sector pension scheme members does seem to pre-empt the "scheme-specific" negotiations into which the trade unions allowed ourselves to be pushed (particularly since "consultation" on these proposals will take place over the summer recess). Today's announcement shows plans to take one billion pounds next year out of the pockets of teachers, health workers and civil servants to help meet the cost of a financial crisis not caused by these groups of workers.

It is certainly a reasonable response to these tactics to get angry but a credible threat of industrial action is an even better response and the best response is to highlight the spreading threat of ever wider action.

When negotiating with an employer under a threat (whether that is of pension contribution increases, job losses or a pay freeze) then any union negotiator knows that they are in a stronger position if clearly preparing - and balloting - for credible, achievable and potentially effective action. The response to a playground bully should not be name-calling, but firm action.

What we need - in line with UNISON Conference policy - is "industrial action to be aimed at achieving maximum unity at the earliest appropriate time, across the public sector."

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