Stop the pensions betrayal!

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THE membership, branch leaderships and regional leaderships of the local government trade unions must stop the betrayal of their final salary pensions by union leaders who have postponed all of the strike actions that they put forward, to follow up on the magnificent one day strike action on March 28th by 1.5 million local government workers.

These trade union leaders have shown that their loyalty is to the capitalist system and to the Blair government and not to their members.

The bosses have decided, along with their Labour government, that the capitalist system can no longer afford final salary pensions, either in the private or public sector. The trade union leaders after a partial but very successful action on March 28, which they were forced to call by the anger of their membership, have jumped to attention in record time, and have announced that they are willing to negotiate the end of final salary pensions.

Their joint statement with the local government employers acknowledges that the Rule of 85, that is retirement at 60, is past history as far as they are concerned.

It says: ‘The statement by the Minister for Local Government on 30th March laying Parliamentary Orders, including the Order to abolish the Rule of 85 from October 2006, provides a framework for developing a new-look scheme.’

Talks have already started on ‘a nothing ruled in nothing ruled out basis’, in which the joint statement also says that ‘All participants are firmly committed to change in pension provision, now and in the future, being made by agreement as far as possible, respecting the role of the DPM as regulator.’

The DPM, Prescott is to be the final arbiter, the dictator over the public sector, who will step in to rule on matters where no agreement has been possible, with the agreement of the union leaders.

The local government leaders are willing to negotiate away final salary pensions, and the leaders of the major trade unions will be willing to do the same for the NHS, and state education, and the state retirement age, now under the fiercest attacks from the Blair government.

They must be taught that they are the servants of the membership, not its masters.

They are seeking consultations with the membership, and they must be consulted in a way that they will understand. There must be emergency meetings of all of the local government branches, of the different trade unions, and the district and regional committees to decide that the suspended April 25th-27th strikes are going to go ahead, and that if the leaders will not officially reinstate them, they will be made to resign.

Mass lobbies must be organised of the leaderships of the different trade unions and of the TUC to ram home these points.

Resolutions, and where need be Emergency resolutions, must be put down for the national conferences of the different trade unions involved, including the TUC Congress, condemning the suspension of the April strike actions and the role that the TUC leader Brendan Barber played in orchestrating this betrayal.

The bottom line is that these leaders are going to lead nothing but surrenders and betrayals. They must be replaced by a new leadership inside the trade unions.

Only the WRP is building the kind of leadership that is required to win these struggles.

It must be a leadership that is not frightened of telling the truth – that the Blair government is a bosses’ government, preparing the way for the return of the Tories and 100 per cent privatisation.

The trade unions must have leaders that are prepared to use the strength of the working class to defeat and bring down the Blair government, and see that it is replaced by a workers’ government that will carry out socialist policies.

This is the only way to defend pensions, the Welfare State and the gains that the working class has made since the end of the Second World War. In fact, it is the French workers who have shown the way to defend the interests of the working class. This is the example to follow. Join the WRP today.