4 MILLION TO BE BALLOTED FOR PENSIONS STRIKES – Congress calls for immediate halt to Libyan military action

Delegates gave Unison leader Prentis a standing ovation after he declared that 9,000 employers were going to be informed of the Unison members’ strike ballot to defend pensions
Delegates gave Unison leader Prentis a standing ovation after he declared that 9,000 employers were going to be informed of the Unison members’ strike ballot to defend pensions

OVER four million public sector workers are set to strike over pensions this November, after trade union leaders announced at the TUC congress yesterday that industrial action ballots are being launched.

Delegates voted unanimously for Composite motion ‘C5 Pensions’.

It calls on the general council to ‘give full support to industrial action against pension cuts, including action planned for this Autumn, and maximise its co-ordination’.

It also calls on the general council to ‘robustly defend public sector pensions and campaign for affordable pensions for all workers on the basis that provision should be based on levelling up and making private companies face up to their responsibilities, rather than cutting public sector pensions’.

Moving the motion, Unison general secretary Dave Prentis insisted: ‘Ordinary workers had nothing to do with this financial crisis.’

He added that: ‘The Tory coalition has taken away public sector workers’ jobs and pay and now they want to take away their pensions.’

He insisted: ‘There are no gold-plated pensions. The average pension for a council worker is £59’ a week.

He declared: ‘The coalition wants its pound of flesh.’

He added: ‘I give notice to 9,000 employers that we are now balloting for industrial action. Now is the time to make a stand.

‘We must stay strong together!’

He said: ‘We won’t be blackmailed by coalition lies, this is it! We will take the fight to them.

‘We are determined, united and fighting for what is right.’

‘Hands off our pensions!’, he concluded to a standing ovation.

Seconding the motion, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka told delegates: ‘Why should we pay more? This is at the same time as giving our members a pay freeze.’

He declared: ‘This is daylight robbery, dressed up with lies that our pensions aren’t affordable.

‘We are happy to talk, but while we are talking we are preparing for mass strike action.’

He said that the joint strike on June 30th ‘transformed the mood overnight. Confidence was raised when people saw that we were prepared to fight back.’

He said that the issue on private sector pensions is ‘not to equalise the misery but to fight for decent pensions for all.

‘Let’s show them that if half a million people changed the debate, what millions of people striking in November will do.

‘There are millions to make our point. Tell the government no!’

NUT general secretary Christine Blower said: ‘I am proud to have taken part in the strike on June 30th.’

She added: ‘In this trade union movement we know that we are all in it together.’

She said: ‘The government expects us to negotiate on no information.’

She told congress: ‘Our members are appalled and concerned at how much more they will have to pay.

‘Teachers are being asked to work until they are 68.’

She announced: ‘On October 26th the teaching unions are lobbying parliament.

‘That lobby will see the likelihood of massive industrial action in November.’

ATL general secretary Mary Bousted said: ‘The June 30th strike achieved a complete demolition of the government’s case that pensions are not affordable.’

TSSA delegate Joel Kosminsky said: ‘It is not the private sector alone or the public sector alone, we are all being attacked.’

FDA general secretary Jonathan Baume told congress: ‘The FDA has provisionally agreed to ballot for industrial action if they increase our pensions contributions.’

Unite delegate Gail Cartmail said: ‘We are giving notice of our intention to ballot all our public sector members.’

Patrick Roach, NASUWT, said that ‘NASUWT is preparing to ballot its members on the perfect storm of pay, jobs and pensions.’

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said his members were not being balloted for industrial action but had registered industrial disputes with all four devolved governments.

Delegates voted overwhelmingly for motion 71 ‘Peace in the Middle East/South Asia’.

It calls for the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, a halt to military action on Libya and endorses the call for the recognition of the state of Palestine.

Motion 71 says: ‘Congress believes the attack against Libya has been misjudged and, while holding no brief for the Gadaffi regime, believes military action should be halted immediately.’

On Palestine, the motion also reaffirms last year’s policy to ‘boycott the goods of companies who profit from illegal settlements, the occupation and the construction of the wall.’