Pensions: Will Prentis try and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?

Prentis prays for a dodgy deal

Leicester Solidarity Group on the rumours that Unison general secretary Dave Prentis is set to agree a backroom deal to cut local government and NHS workers' pensions.

Submitted by Serge Forward on December 17, 2011

While Brendan Barber openly pimps the government's latest pensions "offer" (which in reality offers sweet FA) and is busy urging all public sector unions to kiss Francis Maude's posterior, Unison's Dave Prentis also seems keen to let his backbone slip, and the word on the street is, he's been arguing for total surrender with other union bureaucrats. We're not in the least bit surprised, given that Prentis and the Unison leadership only backed N30 on account of rank and file pressure. Still, Dave tells us it ain't so and in today's Unison eFocus says:

"I realise that rumours have been circulating and I wanted to reassure you that no decisions have been taken over the details surrounding contribution increases or the future look of the LGPS.

"However, I believe that - if agreed - the principles under discussion will provide a very positive framework for negotiations and potentially could lead to no change until 2014."

If you notice just how positive he is, then you don't need to read between the lines to see that Prentis is itching to sell out his members.

Rank and file pressure forced him to back us and rank and file pressure can force him to hold firm. But if that fails, the electricians are already showing us how it's done without the help of union bureaucrats.

Meanwhile, there's an online petition against secret deals by union leaders here.

From Leics Solidarity Group webpage

Comments

Arbeiten

12 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Arbeiten on December 17, 2011

The headline to this article is absolutely classic!

Steven.

12 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on December 17, 2011

Yes, this is worrying - word on the street in Unison was that he is prepared to make a deal based on the governments offer from November 2. The offer which they previously said was no basis for agreement. There has been no money offered, it looks like the only concession is that introduction of the changes will be put back to 2014, instead of being phased in from 2012 to 2015.

It's difficult to know what to do to stop this happening. Local government and the NHS are just too big to try to organise an unofficial national walkout (and they have 2 million and 1.3 million employees respectively), and there isn't even the mood to have any local unofficial walkouts apart from a couple of tiny areas… I think we just have to get this information out to members and see what happens

Serge Forward

12 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Serge Forward on December 17, 2011

There's another petition going round: http://bit.ly/sVyIla

Now while I'm not a big fan of petitions, I think this can be useful in drawing more people's attention to what fuckers like Prentis and Barber are up to. Also, I think we should be trying to organise public sector rank and file meetings in our workplaces and localities and networking them further afield, with a view to having an immediate response to any treachery. This might all sound pie in the sky but, a few months ago, who woulda thunk the sparks would be doing what they're doing now?

Don't forget folks, this is all Communism 101 and it's the role of union high ups to do exactly the kind of thing they're doing - the fact that some union leaders are not doing this (e.g. UCU has pledged to put any 'deal' to the ballot) is a bonus for us.

Anyway, if we build it we can win.

Steven.

12 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on December 17, 2011

I don't want to sound pessimistic, but a big difference with the sparks is that there are only a few hundred of them, so having rank and file communication between a few hundred people is possible, but with millions it is not. The channels of communication are completely controlled by the union officials.

But yes, we have to try. The NUT, PCS and NASUWT are also opposed to the deal.

baboon

12 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by baboon on December 17, 2011

Defeat from the jaws of defeat I'd say. The one-day let off steam policed by the unions has achieved its first aim. Even the airlines were privately pleased with the date of the strike.
The day after the strike Prentis said "we want to get back to negotiations" and it was on the cards that the government would "negotiate" with different unions at different levels. Division is the name of the game.
The PCS might say that they are "against" anything but it means nothing. Mark Serwotka "negotiated" a pension cut for its members with the Labour government in 2006/7 which also brought in the lower "career average" rather than final salary.
I suppose it's wrong to call it "hypocrisy" because the unions are doing what they're supposed to do. But the PCS's own workers have just had their pensions attacked by the unions. They are in a GMB branch called "GMB@PCS" and have been stitched up by both unions with a three-year 10% increase in their payments. Serwotka says this is OK because it's been "negotiated" - and we should know what that means by now.
Further, the PCS has sent its lawyers to the High Court to challenge the government's move to alter pensions from the higher Retail Price Index to the lower Consumer Price Index. Apart from making these lowest of the low slimeballs richer through their legal fees, the PCS has imposed this very change on its own "GMB@PCS" workers.

Serge Forward

12 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Serge Forward on December 17, 2011

Aboslutely right, baboon... but the title wouldn't have been as catchy. Yes, steven, the sparks are a different kettle of fish, but we have to try and trying is everything. I don't expect millions of public sector workers to go wildcat and tell the unions to shove it, but building a significant rank and file rebellion is doable, if we all pull our finger out. And if we have that, it at least keeps the bureaucrats on their toes.

Serge Forward

12 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Serge Forward on December 18, 2011

Actually, on the subject of how clueless the unions are, I don't know if this has been posted on here already but this kind of thing really pisses me off. Yes, I know it shouldn't annoy and it fits in with all relavent critiques of trade unionism but it still goes against the grain:

NAVCA backs Newcastle plan to use strikes savings to support the sector
30/11/2011
NAVCA Chief Executive, Kevin Curley, has praised a council's plan to give savings from the public sector strike to voluntary and community sector groups fighting poverty.

The idea came from trade union members in Newcastle and has won the support of the council - meaning up to £100,000 could now go to hard-pressed community projects tackling poverty, reducing worklessness and improving neighbourhoods in deprived areas.

NAVCA is urging all other public service employers who will benefit from strike savings to follow this example.

Kevin Curley said: "It would have been very easy for Newcastle City Council to quietly pocket the savings from the strike.

"The fact that they followed the advice of their unions and put that money into local voluntary organisations shows real leadership and a genuine concern for the people who are suffering most from the public spending cuts.

"Voluntary organisations across the country are struggling to maintain their services as their funding gets squeezed.

"I hope others in the public sector will follow Newcastle's lead and put their savings to good use by supporting voluntary organisations tackling poverty. If they do it will bring much needed resources to the most deprived communities."

Source: NAVCA

communal_pie

12 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by communal_pie on December 20, 2011

To be honest, this aggrandization of 'public sector workers' seems completely unnecessary.

So many private sector workers have their wages pretty much pre-determined by the same snide civil servants who determine public sector workers' pay, seeing as nearly 400,000 workers are known for a fact to be working for the state through private firms ("public services industry workforce"). That number is probably a lot higher in reality.

What were the sparks largely doing in central London? A public work contracted out to balfour beatty by the government (Blackfriars station), with them tendering for the lowest price possible and passing the savings onto the workforce by taking things away from them. Obviously it's been nationwide and even in London there are loads more, but that's a prime example of what probably doesn't even go into the "public services industry workforce" figures.

Serge Forward

12 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Serge Forward on December 20, 2011

What unnecessary 'aggrandising' of public sector workers are you talking about? I see only talk of how workers, who happen to be in the public sector and have organised the biggest strike in decades, are being or are about to be shat on by the usual TU bureaucrat supects. There has been no 'belittling' anywhere of the 400,000 workers you mention who are working indirectly for the public sector.

Steven.

12 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on December 20, 2011

Yeah, communal pie, I don't understand what you mean either. Of course lots of nominally private sector workers actually perform work for the public sector. Many cleaners, dinner ladies, binmen, etc work for the subcontracted private sector - and that's not even including all the agency workers in the public sector (over 1000 in my Council alone) who are all private sector employees technically. But I really see the relevance here?