UK public sector pensions disputes

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Steven.'s picture
Steven.
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Mar 28 2012 12:44

Anarchist Federation London statement on March 28 strikes: http://libcom.org/forums/anarchist-federation/statement-london-af-march-28th-27032012

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Mar 28 2012 12:44

Well yeah, but why would you expect the media to publicise any small time or relatively inconvienant strikes? We know they have a particular agenda.

baboon
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Mar 28 2012 15:52

I'm not one to be fair to the bourgeoisie but the tanker driver's strike is a long way from a strike and the "fuss" looks to me like a set-up for defeat. The weight so far has been "greedy workers" on forty thousand a year, holding the country to ransom, making life more difficult for the rest of us who are already paying heavily for fuel, and so on and so on. Unite immediately issued a statement (BBC News) saying that the government was right to start training troops. The bourgeoisie are certainly taking this seriously and have already invested heavily in taking on this sector of workers. The workers are already divided by workplace and the antics of Unite so far are not at all favourable to potential workers' actions. This is a great opportunity for the ruling class to publicise a strike that, along with the union, it is about to attempt to decisively crush from within and without along with the use of troops.

There's been plenty on the British news around the last week about Germany; the rise of neo-nazism, Merkel's economic policies, secret service involvement in racist killings, etc., but nothing about the strikes and demonstrations which have been going on for a month. There's little in the British media about strikes in Spain and Portugal and the militant strikes and demonstrations in eastern Europe. It reminds me of the blackout policy in relation to strikes elsewhere that existed in the 80s and these were maintained until the strikes became too big or were used as set pieces to take on the workers.
It's different from the 80s now but I think that there's a definite possibility of a resurgence of class struggle in the offing in Europe particularly. It's also possible that we'll see, coming from the necessary attacks that capitalism has to impose, a possible simultaneity of struggle that itself will pose important questions for the struggle of the future.

don't know what happened here - technical problems?

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Mar 28 2012 18:26

There was a strike at our college today, by NUT and UCU (which has very few members)joined by a few others, UNISON or non-union, who won't cross picket lines. The picket was quite small compared to the Nov 30 strike and, despite some mutterings, was unable to prevent a group of 'outside' SWP people to put themselves at the front gate as if they owned the place. They were made up of an older building worker and two younger guys. The building worker was OK as an individual but being in the SWP certainly imparts a certain and very negative style. Quite a lot of NUT people went into work and no one was dissuaded from going in. However, we do seem to have established a situation at the college where people who refuse to cross a picket line, even if they are not officially on strike, will not be penalised except by losing a day's pay (luckily for me I don't work Wednesdays any more but Miles had to forgo his pay today...).

The lead up to the strike at the college was rather chaotic. People had already been through the negative experience of the sixth-form college 'action' a couple of weeks ago, and now we had this mess of a strike with the NUT/UCU going it alone, in London alone. One interesting thing I learned from the SWP builder on the gate was that the reason the PCSU wasn't calling its members out today is that the Socialist Party, which has a majority on the national executive, told its members to vote against striking today....

At the college there had been a small NUT meeting on Friday. Neither Miles or I had been able to go. Some of our mates on the inside told us that they had decided on a 'leafleting campaign' to try to get others to join the strike, but this turned out to be the NUT writing to itself - copies of the local branch's advise for NUT strikers were put in everyone's pigeon hole or left on tables, with not a word about why people not in the NUT should join the strike. The legalistic habits of trade unionism run very deep. At work and on the picket line people could once again see that it would have been better to have called a meeting about the strike for all employees but from there to actually organising it is a big step for many.

After the picket Miles went to another local college but there was not much doing there. I met up with jaycee and we went to London, to join the march and give out the ICC leaflet. It was as you would expect: a pleasant stroll in the sun, no more. I saw Battlescarred, and a long standing contact of the ICC, who told me he had been doing some work with a Solfed member in one of the schools he works at - I wondered from his description whether it was Chilli Sauce - and in fact the latter mentions something to that effect on his post about workplace practice. Anyway, that's a good thing....

There were some expressions of solidarity from other sectors - some firemen who watched us go by and said they supported us, and a group of (former) Visteon workers, some of whom had come up from Wales.

The SWP leaflet for the day says this strike was positive because it keeps the campaign about pensions going, but this kind of divided-up action is rather more likely to waste people's energies and lessen the possibilities of unified action in the future.

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Mar 29 2012 19:39
Quote:
I saw Battlescarred, and a long standing contact of the ICC, who told me he had been doing some work with a Solfed member in one of the schools he works at - I wondered from his description whether it was Chilli Sauce - and in fact the latter mentions something to that effect on his post about workplace practice. Anyway, that's a good thing....

Oh, do tell...

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Mar 29 2012 20:47
flaneur wrote:
baboon wrote:
A general point: the bourgeoisie are now very careful about reporting strikes across the whole of Europe so it's not suprising that we hear little about strikes in Scotland for example.
There's been a large strike wave and massive demonstrations in Germany from the beginning of this month. Far from the "privileged workers" of Germany that news around Greece propagates, the workers and youth in Germany are being hammered. Today there's strikes around the airports but there's been strikes over the last weeks of civil servants, hospital workers, teachers and rubbish collectors. The unions are obviously doing their best to maintain divisions between the workers.

Though to be fair, the media has made a fuss over the truck drivers strike set to go ahead.

More importantly advocating negative attitudes towards them by saying things like "they will be politically damaged by taking action without making a concerted effort with ACAS", making people's minds up for them (or trying to..)

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Mar 29 2012 20:51

-edited-

baboon
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Mar 30 2012 11:17

Yes I agree with the negative attitude thing being generated by the bourgeoisie against the tanker drivers. They've talked about their "high" wages but neglect to say that this is for 2/3 days out on the road, a sleepover back home and two and three more days out. I met and offloaded many tanker drivers on a regular basis during the last 25 years and witnessed first hand the breakdown and deregulation of the industry. It was all negotiated and agreed by the unions.

The government has already been talking to the industrial division of ACPO (senior cops - a limited company!) over cracking down on picketing and the army and RAF over scabbing. .I think that they wanted to set the drivers up for a defeat but they've fucked it up.

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Mar 30 2012 14:40
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Quote:
I saw Battlescarred, and a long standing contact of the ICC, who told me he had been doing some work with a Solfed member in one of the schools he works at - I wondered from his description whether it was Chilli Sauce - and in fact the latter mentions something to that effect on his post about workplace practice. Anyway, that's a good thing....

Oh, do tell...

So I've just realised that my humour here may have, umm, not come across (we'll blame it on cultural confusion). Basically, I don't think I've been doing any work with Battlescarred (although I do have great personal respect for the cantankerous old coot wink ), but I just enjoy that fact that the ICC thinks I'm doing worthwhile work wink

In any case Alf, I'd be curious to hear your feedback on the workplace activity thread.

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Mar 30 2012 14:47
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Quote:
I saw Battlescarred, and a long standing contact of the ICC, who told me he had been doing some work with a Solfed member in one of the schools he works at - I wondered from his description whether it was Chilli Sauce - and in fact the latter mentions something to that effect on his post about workplace practice. Anyway, that's a good thing....

Oh, do tell...

So I've just realised that my humour here may have, umm, not come across (we'll blame it on cultural confusion). Basically, I don't think I've been doing any work with Battlescarred (although I do have great personal respect for the cantankerous old coot wink ), but I just enjoy that fact that the ICC thinks I'm doing worthwhile work wink

In any case Alf, I'd be curious to hear your feedback on the workplace activity thread.

Chilli, I think you've got it mixed up - Alf met Battlescarred and also a contact of ours who said he'd been working with someone from SOLFED....

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Mar 30 2012 15:05

Ahh!!!! I know exactly who you're talking about and you're entirely right!

Small world, huh?

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Mar 30 2012 17:46
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Ahh!!!! I know exactly who you're talking about and you're entirely right!

Small communist libertarian milieu huh?

Fixed wink

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Mar 30 2012 21:08

hi Chilli. Regarding the 'workplace practice' thread, I read Devoration's post more carefully, and yours, since they seemed to be closest to my own conceptions. I am going to re-read them and make some comments soonish.

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Mar 30 2012 22:21

Actually i've printed off the posts by Steven and syndicalist as well, and will be reading them during my 'leisure'

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Mar 31 2012 07:36

It's scary what passes for leisure in our world comrade!

Spikymike
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Apr 1 2012 14:06

On a slightly separate note I see that UNISON in local government, heavily into detailed negotiations on the governments new pensions proposals is talking about proposing a 'low cost - low employee contribution - low benefits option' presumably woried about many low paid employees opting out in future and undermining the pension fund. Seems that starting from a weak position it's just getting worse??

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Apr 7 2012 16:34

NUT have committed to "unspecified regional and national action next term".

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Apr 7 2012 18:33

NUT twitter today 'NUT voted today to work with other unions to seek to organise a one day strike in the summer term #NUT2012'

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Apr 7 2012 20:48

Nice one.

I think our UCU ballot is still live, I'm guessing we'll strike nationally if the NUT strike nationally? There might be a regional strike as well I heard, one day regional one day national. My sources are just gossip from mates in the NUT though.

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Apr 12 2012 22:52

Heard that NUT have voted to boycott Ofsted, excellent.

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Apr 13 2012 10:15

Really! No shit? That's sounds amazing. I've also heard their members are being balloted over regionalised pay.

In any case, it appears that UNISON are balloting their NHS members to accept the government's pension proposals:

Quote:
Over the next week, from 11 April to 17 April, a UNISON ballot paper will be sent to you asking for your vote on proposals to reform the NHS Pension Scheme from 2015.

The ballot papers are being sent to all current members who have access to the NHS Pension Scheme. This includes members who have deferred their pension scheme but are still working in the NHS.

Your ballot paper will ask if you want to accept the proposals or reject them and take further, sustained, industrial action.

Because a vote to reject the proposals would mean the union needing to call further strikes, it is really important that you understand this and are sure it is something you would be willing to commit to.

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Apr 13 2012 10:30

Yeah, I was thinking about writing a blog about that. It's a massively manipulative move, they are deliberately balloting the group most likely to accept first, and doing so just before their first reduced paycheques (reduced by the pension contribution increases) coming at the end of this month.

Local government workers in Unison, for example would be much more likely to reject the deal. But it health workers accept it then that would make local government workers more likely to accept it later on.

We need to try to get people to vote no!

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Apr 13 2012 17:27

Unite health workers strike in May and NUT strike in June is the latest I've heard.

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Apr 17 2012 22:30
fingers malone wrote:
Unite health workers strike in May and NUT strike in June is the latest I've heard.

yeah, Unite health will be going out alongside the PCS. I've written a blog about it here:
http://libcom.org/blog/new-public-sector-walkout-over-pensions-set-may-10-17042012

vanilla.ice.baby
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Apr 18 2012 22:21
Steven. wrote:

Local government workers in Unison, for example would be much more likely to reject the deal. But it health workers accept it then that would make local government workers more likely to accept it later on.

Rubbish - LG workers are much more likely to accept or have a lower turn-out

Quote:
We need to try to get people to vote no!

Absolutely.

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Apr 18 2012 22:38
vanilla.ice.baby wrote:
Steven. wrote:

Local government workers in Unison, for example would be much more likely to reject the deal. But it health workers accept it then that would make local government workers more likely to accept it later on.

Rubbish - LG workers are much more likely to accept or have a lower turn-out

er this is not "rubbish" at all, this is fact based on how just about every vote in unison has gone over the entire time unison has existed. See, for example, the pay disputes in 2007-2008. Each time workers in local government rejected our offers, and voted to strike against them. Meanwhile, health members voted to accept the deals.

You might be confusing unison with Unite, who have much more a history of voting to reject deals to a large extent, as Unite members did over pay in 2007 and 8 (although not that it made any difference in practice)

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Apr 19 2012 15:59
Steven. wrote:
Yeah, I was thinking about writing a blog about that. It's a massively manipulative move, they are deliberately balloting the group most likely to accept first, and doing so just before their first reduced paycheques (reduced by the pension contribution increases) coming at the end of this month.

Local government workers in Unison, for example would be much more likely to reject the deal. But it health workers accept it then that would make local government workers more likely to accept it later on.

We need to try to get people to vote no!

seen the literature on it? it's a pile of shit. basically, fudged figures for increased payments (no breakdown of figures people will be paying) and barely a mention of later retirement age and lower final pension. Instead a focus on protecting lower paying staff (for 1 year, wow) and protection for soon to retire members. And then telling all the members that if they reject it they may well get a worse offer. I'm a health rep and i'm telling people who ask to vote no. this link gives a flavour:

http://www.unison.org.uk/pensions/protectour.asp

not a shock obv. i can't actual find anything in it that wasn't on table before the strike, am i right in that?

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Apr 19 2012 22:25
Between Your Teeth wrote:
not a shock obv. i can't actual find anything in it that wasn't on table before the strike, am i right in that?

you are absolutely right

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May 2 2012 21:47

Vanilla hasn't responded to my comments above, but unfortunately I've been proved right.

Unison members in health only voted 50.5% to reject the deal, on a 14.8% turnout. As the poster above points out, this is largely because of how unison worded the ballot, and how they timed it, rushing through before the reduced paycheques come in.

If they had recommended a rejection (which of course they should have done, as it represents the same massive cut in pensions that we were urged to go on strike over on November 30), then there would have been a massive rejection vote (probably comparable with the other unions around the 90% plus mark). So it's a real testament to workers' anger that the majority still did vote to reject:
http://unison.org.uk/asppresspack/pressrelease_view.asp?id=2685

I am so furious with the union over this…

Still, health workers in Unite are due to strike on May 10, so hopefully some unison members and other non-union members will refuse to cross their picket lines on the day. Indeed, for many staff management would have to assume that they are in the union and so wouldn't be able to take any sort of disciplinary action against them.

In further bad news, the NUT now looks unlikely to take any action until at least the winter term following a meeting of their national executive which largely rejected action in the summer term, in favour of an alliance with the NASUWT

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May 2 2012 22:41

Yeah we're getting fucked around bigtime in NUT. I haven't blogged about education stuff as I was busy with job hunting, but the gist in NUT was:

- proposed regional action May 10th alongside PCS/Unite
-- regions were surveyed, regional secretaries surveyed schools, general feedback sounds bad (at least it was amongst NUT members in my school)
Pensions are now the last thing on any teacher's mind as the new accelerated capability measures and Ofsted framework means teachers, particularly older ones who are seen as 'poor value for money' by tight-budget heads, are now far more worried about losing their jobs full stop than getting their pension robbed - what good is a pension if you'll be fired within 9 weeks? sad

- rumoured national one-day strike over pensions June 28th
again, as teachers are incredibly demoralised after voting already to strike nationally, then beign surveyed over something they already voted for, then being ignored when 73% said YES to continue strikes, a lot just don't see the point

- as for the 'boycott Ofsted' - this makes me piss myself. NUT have no fucking intention of boycotting Ofsted, if they had any integrity they'd have been doing it since Ofsted came in, they've allowed thousands of their members to be fucked over since the 90s by Ofsted and now with over 50% of secondaries academies, it just sounds like mealy mouthed shite they always come up with at conference time

As is obvious, I'm incredibly cynical about the NUT's efforts at the minute, and while I'll keep arguing and chatting to my workmates about these things, NUT will be doing fuck all I'm sure